Man Pleads Guilty to Assuming Soldier’s IdentityOctober 24, 2007
The battle to convict a 33-year-old man for assuming a soldier’s identity was won Oct. 16 when Tosin Okunbanjo pled guilty to aggravated identity theft.
Until he was caught, the perpetrator certainly got a lot of mileage out of his victim’s identity. Okunbanjo, who moved to the U.S. in 2001 and lived here until this past July, posed as the soldier to enter the United States, establish residency and obtain credit and loans. Under the assumed identity, he also married a U.S. citizen, obtained a Maryland driver’s license, found employment and enrolled in college, according to a news release from the office of U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.
Okunbanjo entered the country on a false passport bearing his victim’s name and date of birth. He later used his victim’s personal information to obtain four student loans, one automotive loan and three revolving credit accounts, fraudulently receiving in excess of $41,800, according to the original 10-count indictment and court documents.
“This case illustrates the damage caused by criminals who steal the identities of innocent victims,” Rosenstein said in a July news release announcing the indictment.
Soldier denied citizenship, forced to resignCourt documents say the scam was discovered in February 2005 when the victim, a lawful permanent resident, applied to become a naturalized citizen based on his four years of service in the U.S. military. When the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service reviewed his records, they discovered that an unknown person (later discovered to be Okunbanjo) had, in 2004, used a false passport bearing the victim’s name to adjust his immigration status to lawful permanent resident.
The serviceman’s application was initially denied and he was forced to resign from the military. However, following the investigation that led to the prosecution of this case, the victim was granted U.S. citizenship.
Okunbanjo faces a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison, followed by a year of supervised release. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jan. 4 in U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett’s court.
According to the U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security investigated 3,564 new cases of passport and visa fraud in 2005, making 583 arrests. Passport fraud is most often committed by terrorists or fugitives, or people illegally seeking citizenship, attempting to conceal their identity, committing financial fraud or another criminal activity.
Serving their country, still being scammedAlthough military personnel are risking their lives to serve our country, they are, regrettably, still targeted by identity thieves. With hundreds of thousands of soldiers deployed around the world, the military’s vast infrastructure of personal data and financial information makes a tempting target for hackers and fraudsters engaging in civilian forms of dishonorable conduct.
Military veterans also have been caught in the criminals’ crosshairs. For instance, after the loss of computer discs containing data on 26.5 million U.S. veterans in May 2006, veterans were preyed upon in a telephone scam offering data breach relief.
Soldiers’ families were even victimized, earlier this year, by individuals claiming to represent the American Red Cross. Callers would falsely report the family’s loved one had been flown to a foreign military hospital and demand the soldier’s birth date and Social Security number in order to proceed with treatment. The families didn’t always know that the American Red Cross rarely contacts family members directly.
It’s safe to say the soldiers and veterans victimized by cyber-thieves and scammers have some ideas as to who should be sent next to the stockade.
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