Thursday, May 6, 2004

2 Nigerian men charged with stealing identities



By Sharon Coolidge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Two Nigerian cousins are behind bars, accused of running an elaborate identity theft ring in which they stole tens of thousands of dollars to pay for fancy cars and the latest technological gadgets.

They are accused of stealing at least $100,000 from seven people in a half-dozen states from New Jersey to Florida, according to an indictment made public Wednesday.

During a search of the men's apartments, prosecutors said, Springdale police seized a book filled with names and numbers of potential other victims and a computer with driver's license records on its hard drive.

Springdale Lt. Mike Mathis said the book contained dozens of names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers and addresses.

A Hamilton County grand jury indicted Oluwole Okuwa, 26, of Woodlawn, and Oludayo Ashipa, 27, of Silverton, Wednesday on charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, taking a person's identity, receiving stolen property and theft.

"Unfortunately identity theft is a criminal problem that has been blossoming for some time now," said Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen.

Prosecutors say the cousins opened post office boxes in Madisonville, Sharonville, Lockland and Roselawn. Then they accessed accounts of three people, changing the addresses on the accounts and requesting new debit cards and PIN numbers.

The men remain jailed in Hamilton County on $500,000 bond.

E-mail scoolidge@enquirer.com




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