Jury Convicts HELOC Fraudster

Allison Tussey —  April 13, 2009 — 1 Comment

Henry “Uche” Obilo, 29, Miami, Florida was convicted by a jury of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Obilo faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release, and a fine of approximately $17 million. United States District Judge T.S. Ellis, III presided over the trial. Sentencing is scheduled for July 17, 2009.

According to court documents, the defendants and other co-conspirators used fee-based web databases to search for potential victims with large balances in home equity line of credit (HELOC) accounts. This information included name, address, date of birth, and social security number. Once the conspirators identified a victim they used other online databases to obtain information commonly used in security questions, such as the victim’s mother’s maiden name. The conspirators then obtained credit reports on the victims in order to verify personal information and account balances.

Armed with the victim’s personal information, the conspirators called the victim’s financial institution, impersonated the victim, and transferred the majority of the available money from the HELOC account into an account from which a wire transfer could be sent. The conspirators would then wire transfer hundreds of thousands of dollars to domestic or overseas accounts controlled by members of the conspiracy. The conspirators used caller-ID spoofing services, prepaid cell phones and PC wireless cards, and transferred victims’ home telephone numbers in order to impersonate the victim and avoid identifying themselves.

Once money arrived in a foreign bank, normally in Asia, a money mule who had opened the account for this purpose withdrew the money in cash. The money mule would keep a portion and hand the rest to a courier outside of the bank. The courier would gather several wire transfers from various money mules and crate the money up and send it to the head of the group in Asia. This person would then send wire transfers to various members of the conspiracy. To date, the conspiracy has been linked to more than $8 million in actual losses.

Obilo is the seventh individual convicted in this case. The other six, who all pled guilty, include: Abel Nnabue, 33, Dallas, Texas, was sentenced to 54 months on January 30, 2009; Precious Matthews, 27, Miami, Florida, was sentenced 51 months on February 13, 2009; Brandy Anderson, 30, Dallas, Texas, was sentenced to 2 years of supervised probation and 40 days of community confinement on February 20, 2009; Ezenwa Onyedebelu, 20, Dallas, Texas, was sentenced to 37 months on February 27, 2009; Daniel Orjinta, 42, Nigeria, was sentenced to 42 months on March 6, 2009; and Paula Gipson, 33, Dallas, Texas, pled guilty on February 26, 2009 and is scheduled to be sentenced on May 22, 2009.

Dana J. Boente, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, David Baker, Chief of Police, Alexandria Police Department, Joseph Persichini, Jr., Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington Field Office, and Jeffrey W. Irvine, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service, Washington Field Office, made the announcement.

This case was investigated by the Alexandria Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and United States Secret Service. Assistant United States Attorney John Eisinger and DOJ Trial Attorney Tyler Newby are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

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One response to Jury Convicts HELOC Fraudster

  1. Why do Nigerians show up so often as being perpetrators of crimes against financial institutions?

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