Toronto Man To Pay $1.5 Million In International Credit Card Fraud Case

5 February 2015

In the conclusion to years-long proceedings to determine who was responsible and how much was owed in the credit card fraud case of Toronto resident Adekunle Adetiloye, a United States federal judge has ordered the former “high-tech bank robber” to pay more than $1.5 million in restitution and forfeiture.

A Nigerian native and Canadian citizen, Adetiloye pulled off what some officials estimate was one of the biggest credit card fraud operations ever, gaining access to the identities of about 38,000 people in order to scam them with fake credit collection companies he incorporated himself. U.S. federal prosecutor Nick Chase said in court that “characterizing this fraud scheme as massive, if anything, is an understatement,” and that Adetiloye displayed an “insatiable hunger for other people’s money”. Bank officials responsible for dealing with the aftermath of the scheme described it as one of the most complex fraud cases they had ever seen.

Although Adetiloye lived in Toronto, he was tried in the state of North Dakota after U.S. Bank, whose headquarters are in Fargo, discovered evidence of the scheme. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison in January 2012, almost five years after he was arrested in 2007, with the delay in sentencing due to the complexity of the charges. Originally, his defense team claimed that he had only a minimal role in the scheme, arguing that there was not enough evidence to support the idea that he was the leader, but documents that came to light over the course of the case demonstrated that he was involved much more deeply than the defense was trying to portray.

According to investigators, Adetiloye used the relatively unusual technique of incorporating his own fraudulent debt collection companies, which allowed him to gain access to commercial data providers that are only accessible to law enforcement, financial services and debt collection agencies. This allowed him to steal the personal financial information of about 38,000 people, mostly medical professionals, and open checking and bank accounts in their names.

Adetiloye is expected to appeal the order to pay $1.5 million in restitution, and according to Chase, it’s unclear whether individuals victimized by Adetiloye’s schemes will actually receive any payments from the case. The unusual nature of the scheme has made it difficult for the justice system to determine how much Adetiloye owes and to whom.

“To be fair to everybody, the losses in this case are uncommon. It’s a hard case in many ways to prove up. There’s just not a lot of law out there on any of this. It’s a little uncharted,” Chase said in an interview following the judgment.

In the U.S., restitution refers to payments ordered to be made by a defendant that constitute direct repayment of a loss suffered because of a criminal act, and cannot exceed the actual financial cost to those affected by the crime. Forfeiture, on the other hand, is simply the seizing of assets acquired by criminal means, and is meant to keep criminals from retaining the financial spoils of a crime after they have been convicted.

The victims in large international credit card fraud schemes like this one usually have no idea an account has been opened in their name until they see the effects of the new accounts on their credit score. To protect your credit from the effects of identity theft and credit card fraud, it can be prudent to enroll in a credit monitoring program. With credit monitoring, you will be alerted to certain kinds of activity on your credit file that might indicate fraud as soon as they occur.