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Former bank computer technician charged in $1m ID theft scheme

29 October 2009  |  9161 views  |  0 digital fingerprints

A computer technician has been charged with stealing the identities of more than 150 former colleagues at the Bank of New York Mellon and using the information to pilfer over $1.1 million from charities, non-profit groups and other institutions.

According to Manhattan prosecutors, Adeniyi Adeyemi was employed as a computer technician contractor at the headquarters of the Bank of New York in 2001.

During his time there, he stole the personal identifying information of dozens of Bank of New York employees, mainly in the IT department, where he was assigned, say prosecutors.

Over the next few years, he is accused of using this information to open over 30 bank and brokerage accounts in their identities with firms including E*Trade, Fidelity, Citi, Wachovia, and Washington Mutual.

Authorities say these accounts served as dummies for the purpose of receiving stolen funds. Adeyemi stole money from the bank accounts of charities and non-profit organisations and funnelled it into the dummy accounts, later withdrawing the stolen funds or transferring them to a second layer of dummies.

He was assisted in the theft because, in the interests of facilitating donations, many charities put their banking details on the Internet, making them easy prey for unauthorised withdrawals by identity thieves, particularly those with computer expertise such as Adeyemi.

Adeyemi is also accused of stealing from Bank of New York employees themselves. Prosecutors say he changed the contact information associated with their online banking profiles, took control of their accounts and wired money to dummies.

Wiring just under $10,000 at a time to avoid hitting the threshold at which all financial institutions must report transactions to the US Treasury, he is accused of stealing more than $128,000 from staff. Among other purchases, Adeyemi used these stolen proceeds to buy additional postal service money orders worth more than $100,000.

The New York/New Jersey Electronic Crimes Task Force of the United States Secret Service began surveillance on Adeyemi after tracing suspicious Internet activity at his apartment.

A search of the apartment in April uncovered dozens of Bank of New York employees' credit reports on his computer, along with many other documents containing personal identifying information of more than 150 staff.

The investigative team also found notebooks containing hundreds of names, social security numbers, account numbers, and other personal data, along with numerous credit cards in Bank of New York employees' names in a storage locker Adeyemi rented.

In a 149-count indictment, Adeyemi has been charged with grand larceny, identity theft, money laundering, scheme to defraud, computer tampering, and unlawful possession of personal identification information.

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