Houston Man Sentenced for Conspiring to Steal from Home Equity Lines of Credit of Unsuspecting Victims
HOUSTON—Obinna Gregory Okoro, 25, of Houston, has been ordered to prison after conspiring to use personal identifiers of victims to create fake bank accounts online, link those accounts to existing bank accounts and drain them of the funds, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Okoro pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit bank fraud, one count of engaging in computer fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft Sept. 3, 2014.
Today, U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas, who had accepted the plea ordered Okoro to serve 33 months for the conspiracy and computer fraud charges and a consecutive 24 months for the aggravated identity theft to be served consecutively for a total 57- month-term of imprisonment. He will also be required to serve three years of supervised release following completion of that prison term. Judge Atlas also ordered restitution in the amount of $455,686.39.
According to his plea agreement, in September 2013, Okoro and his co-conspirators stole $537,681 from PNC Bank N.A. Okoro and others created a fraudulent account at PNC Bank using the a victim’s personal identifiers, which they linked to the victim’s home equity line of credit (HELOC) account. They also posed as the victim to call PNC Bank in order to learn more about the accounts, order checks and increase the daily withdrawal limit. They accessed these accounts online to fraudulently transfer a total of $537,681 from the victim’s HELOC account to the account they created. From there, they withdrew and transferred much of this money.
Okoro’s plea agreement also indicates that in April 2014, Okoro and his co-conspirators stole money from a bank account jointly held by two victims. Okoro and co-conspirators used the victims’ personal identifiers to fraudulently open a bank account online at Commerce Bank N.A., which was linked to a legitimate account owned by the victims.
Posing as one of the victims, they called Commerce Bank. When the bank asked for personal identifiers to authenticate their identity, Okoro and his co-conspirators were able to provide the victims’ name, date of birth, Social Security number, direct deposit account number and mother’s maiden name. They then transferred money from the victims’ legitimate account to the fraudulent account that they created and withdrew this money. Altogether, Okoro and his co-conspirators fraudulently transferred about $25,027 from the victims’ account to the fraudulent Commerce Bank account they created. From there, Okoro and his co-conspirators withdrew (or spent in debit card transactions) approximately $21,463.04.
Okoro has admitted he used some of the monies to buy an $85,000 BMW 650i. A Rolex watch appraised to have a fair market value of $47,800, a bracelet and a medallion were also seized at time of his arrest.
Okoro is and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The charges are the result of an investigation by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Chu prosecuted the case.