A Canadian man accused of masterminding one of the largest high-tech bank robberies in U.S. history was sentenced to nearly 18 years in prison on Monday following a years-long investigation into fake debt collection agencies that prosecutors say stole the identities of about 38,000 people.
Adekunle Adetiloye was accused of organizing a scheme to open nearly 600 fraudulent bank accounts and bilk 22 major banks, potentially costing credit card firms and banks up to $5 million. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nick Chase in North Dakota, where the case was handled, said the 40-year-old had an "insatiable hunger for other people's money."
Defense attorneys had argued that their client, the only person charged in the case, was a "marginal and minimal participant" whose role was to handle mail and withdraw money from ATMs. But prosecutors and the judge believed he was central to the scheme.
Investigators said Adetiloye incorporated two different companies in Delaware - Syspac Financial Services and Commet Consultant Inc. - that claimed to be debt collection companies. He gained access to commercial data providers, including large-scale outfits LexisNexis and ChoicePoint that only allow access to law enforcement, financial services and debt collection companies.
With access to those data providers, Adetiloye and others obtained the personal identification information to about 38,000 people, most of whom were medical professionals, and used that information to open credit card, debit and checking accounts, prosecutors said.
Those data providers said it was only the second such breach of that scale.
"Characterizing this fraud scheme as massive, if anything, is an understatement," Chase said in court documents.
Investigators' interest in Adetiloye, a native of Nigeria, was piqued after figuring out he was unemployed and receiving welfare yet living lavishly, complete with a Range Rover vehicle, extended trips to England and an expensive condominium. Then there were two credit cards tucked away in his wallet the each bore different names - Donald Douglas and Vincent Andriole - that seemed to confirm suspicions that he was up to something nefarious.
The judge calculated losses to banks at about $1.5 million, but said it could have been as high as $5 million if credit limits had been maxed out.