TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: More Charges for Los Angeles Man in ChoicePoint ID Theft

More Charges for Los Angeles Man in ChoicePoint ID Theft

Dan Whitcomb (
Wed, 31 Aug 2005 01:21:38 -0500

By Dan Whitcomb

A Nigerian man has been indicted for infiltrating the personal data
firm ChoicePoint Inc. to fraudulently access financial records of
consumers in a still-widening case that has spurred calls for tighter
regulation of the consumer information business.

Oluwatunji Oluwatosin, who had already been sentenced to 16 months in
prison in the ChoicePoint case, now faces 22 more charges, Los Angeles
prosecutors said on Tuesday.

The additional counts came as authorities broadened their investigation
of data theft at ChoicePoint and said they expected more people to be
charged in the case.

Prosecutors said about 1,500 people had their personal data
fraudulently accessed and an estimated 148,000 people nationwide were
exposed to identity theft. The ChoicePoint case first came to light in
February when the company -- as required by state law -- informed some
35,000 Californians that they were at risk for identity theft.

"The 22-count grand jury indictment unsealed today represents one of
the largest cases of identity theft ever prosecuted in Los Angeles
County," Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley said.

The breach prompted investigations by federal authorities and a
U.S. Senate committee. Sen. Diane Feinstein has used the ChoicePoint
case to back her call for a federal law like the California regulation
requiring data companies to advise consumers when their information
has been compromised.

Oluwatosin, 42, a resident of the Los Angeles suburb of North
Hollywood, is accused of using mail drops to dupe ChoicePoint into
thinking he ran a legitimate business, which allowed him access to the
Georgia company's vast collection of consumer information.

Prosecutors say Oluwatosin and other members of a fraud ring used that
information to access existing credit card accounts or set up new

The case caused $2 million in losses to Bank of America, Citibank,
Bank One, Household Bank and Discover and another $2 million to
ChoicePoint to cover the costs of notifying consumers whose data had
been compromised.

In February Oluwatosin was sentenced to 16 months in prison after
pleading no contest to a single count of identity theft in the
ChoicePoint case. Authorities continued the investigation while he
was in prison.

Oluwatosin faces 22 years in prison if convicted on all of the counts
in the new indictment, which charges him with conspiracy, grand theft,
identity theft and credit card access fraud.

A second Nigerian national, Kabiru Olatunde Ipaye, 43, has been charged in a
related case with receiving stolen property, access fraud, possessing a
forged driver's license and other counts.

ChoicePoint's databases contain 19 billion public records, including driving
records, sex-offender lists and FBI lists of wanted criminals and suspected

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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