$5M Fraud: NYPD Burst Nigerian Gang

Source: VIVIAN LEE, NY1, ADDITIONAL REPORT BY OUR REPORTER - thewillnigeria.com
PHOTO: INDICTED NIGERIANS; L-R: OKECHUKWU OKORONKWO, GANIYU RILWAN AND KAZEEM BADRU.
PHOTO: INDICTED NIGERIANS; L-R: OKECHUKWU OKORONKWO, GANIYU RILWAN AND KAZEEM BADRU.
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The Staten Island district attorney announced the indictment of more than two dozen people Wednesday in connection with an identity theft ring that allegedly took advantage of more than 200 people, including soldiers who were overseas.

The New York City Police Department has arrested 26 people, mostly natives of Nigeria, who were allegedly in the business of stealing identities and stole at least $5 million. They allegedly affected more than 200 soldiers, including many of whom were unaware of what was happening, since they were serving overseas.

Some of the soldiers were even on active duty in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"In fact, one soldier came home last Christmas, only to discover his bank account had been emptied," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

Police said the ring was centered on Staten Island and was busted after a two-year investigation called "Operation Hydra" that went far beyond the borough.

"This investigation reached its tentacles into Brooklyn; Westchester; Manhattan; Philadelphia; Brennan and Fort Hood, Texas; Atlanta, Ga.; Greensboro, N.C. and the city of Lagos in Nigeria," said Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan.

The investigation started in March 2008, when the NYPD got a call from a woman in Montana claiming someone in New York City was depleting her bank account. Investigators said someone was writing checks against her home equity line of credit.

Banks on Staten Island also reported losses as a result of the scam.

Two years later, investigators acknowledged the soldiers may have been targeted with the help of someone on the inside, because the soldiers were far from home.

"It takes a certain type of detached cruelty to victimize people in this way. The detectives and prosecutors who worked on this case can take great pride in putting these despicable con artists out business," said Kelly.

Donovan, who is running for state attorney general, said that the suspects gained access to their victims' mail.

"People ought to take precautions with their mail and lock their box. It is an offense to steal somebody's mail. It is a federal offense, but that didn't stop these individuals," said Donovan. "Keep track of your credit report. You are entitled to your own credit report, and... if someone has stolen your identity, you will see things on your credit report that you didn't purchase. Report all thefts to the New York City Police Department."

The investigation is ongoing and more arrests could be made.

Most of the arrested suspects face a charge of enterprise corruption, as well as grand larceny and fraud. If convicted, they face 25 years behind bars.

Those Indicted 

1. Kazeem Badru

220 Osgood Avenue 

Staten Island, NY 10304

DOB: 3/16/1972

Top Count: Enterprise Corruption (PL 460.20)

Additional Charges: Two Counts of Att. Grand Larceny- 4th Degree (PL 110/155.30), Att. Falsifying Business Records- 1st Degree (PL110/175.10), Three Counts of Grand Larceny- 3rd Degree (PL155.35), Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument- 2nd Degree (PL170.25), Three Counts of Grand Larceny- 2nd Degree (PL155.40), Money Laundering- 2nd Degree (PL470.15)

2. Ganiu Rilwan

240 Park Hill Avenue

Staten Island, NY10304

DOB: 5/22/1964

Top Count: Enterprise Corruption (PL460.20)

Additional Charges: Two Counts of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument- 2nd Degree (PL170.25), Criminal Possession of Stolen Property- 4th Degree (PL165.45), Three Counts of Grand Larceny- 4th Degree (PL155.30), Four Counts of Grand Larceny- 3rd Degree (155.35), Three Counts of Att. Grand Larceny- 4th Degree (PL110/155.30), Att. Falsifying Business Records- 1st Degree (PL110/175.10), Three Counts of Grand Larceny- 2nd Degree (PL155.40), Money Laundering- 2nd Degree (PL470.15)

3. Okoronkwo Okechukwu a/k/a Ikeena a/k/a Obinna Okoronkwo a/k/a "OT" a/k/a "O-Town."

30 Parkview Loop

Staten Island, NY10314

DOB: 1/16/1978

Top Count: Enterprise Corruption (PL460.20)

Additional Charges: Six Counts of Grand Larceny- 3rd Degree (PL155.35), Nine Counts of Grand Larceny- 4th Degree (PL155.30), Six Counts of Att. Grand Larceny- 4th Degree (PL110/155.30), Three Counts of Conspiracy- 5th Degree (PL105.05), Scheme to Defraud- 1st Degree (PL190.65), Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument- 2nd Degree (PL170.25), Three Counts of Att. Grand Larceny- 3rd Degree (PL110/155.35), Three Counts of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property- 4th Degree (PL165.45), Two Counts of Identity Theft- 1st Degree (PL190.80), Identity Theft- 2nd Degree (PL190.79)

4. Chukunenye Okpo a/k/a "Chuck."

59 Dehart Avenue 

Staten Island, NY10303

DOB: 7/8/1983

Top Count: Enterprise Corruption (PL460.20)

Additional Charges: Three Counts of Grand Larceny- 3rd Degree (PL155.35), Five Counts of Grand Larceny- 4th Degree (PL155.30), Two Counts of Att. Grand Larceny- 4th Degree (PL110/155.30), Three Counts of Conspiracy- 5th Degree (PL105.05), Scheme to Defraud- 1st Degree (PL190.65), Three Counts of Att. Grand Larceny- 3rd Degree (PL110/155.35), Two Counts of Identity Theft- 1st Degree (PL190.80), Identity Theft- 2nd Degree (PL190.79)

5. George Brew a/k/a "OLA"

8759 Glenloch Street

Philadelphia, PA19136

DOB: 8/9/1978

Top Count: Enterprise Corruption (PL 460.20)

Additional Charges: Conspiracy- 5th Degree (PL  105.05), Grand Larceny-3rd Degree (PL  155.35), Grand Larceny-4th Degree (PL  155.30)

6. Samuel Montgomery a/k/a "ADE"

2525 Welsh Road

Philadelphia, PA19114

DOB: 3/27/1981

Top Count: Enterprise Corruption (PL460.20)

Additional Charges: Conspiracy- 5th Degree (PL105.05), Two Counts of Grand Larceny- 3rd Degree (PL155.35), Two Counts of Att. Grand Larceny- 4th Degree (PL110/155.30), Three Counts of Grand Larceny- 4th Degree (PL155.30), Criminal Possession of Stolen Property- 4th Degree (PL165.45)

7. Ishameel Lawandi a/k/a "ISH"

240 Parkhill Avenue

Staten Island, NY10304

DOB: 1/23/1981

Top Count: Enterprise Corruption (PL460.20)

Additional Charges: Five Counts of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument- 2nd Degree (PL170.25), Grand Larceny- 3rd Degree (PL155.35), Two Counts of Att. Grand Larceny- 3rd Degree (PL110/155.35)

8. Kanayo Unokiwe a/k/a "SAM"

43 Trantor Place

Staten Island, NY10302

DOB: 10/28/1979

Top Count: Enterprise Corruption (PL460.20)

Additional Charges: Att. Grand Larceny- 4th Degree (PL110/155.30), Two Counts of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property- 4th Degree (PL165.45)

9. Kolawole Adeolike a/k/a "K-Boy"

89 Arlington Avenue

Staten Island, NY 10303

DOB: (NO DATE OF BIRTH)

Top Count: Enterprise Corruption (PL460.20)

Additional Charges: Scheme to Defraud- 1st Degree (PL190.65), Two Counts of Grand Larceny- 3rd Degree (PL155.35)

10. Corey Mills

280 Parkhill Avenue

Staten Island, NY10304

DOB: 1/14/1989

Top Count: Enterprise Corruption (PL460.20)

Additional Charges: Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument- 2nd Degree, Three Counts of Att. Grand Larceny- 3rd Degree (PL110/155.35)

11. John Doe #1 

Top Counts: Enterprise Corruption (PL460.20)

Additional Charges: Scheme to Defraud- 1st Degree (PL190.65), Two Counts of Att. Grand Larceny- 4th Degree (PL110/155.30)

12. Alexias  S. Cartews a/k/a "LEX"

51 E. Park Street

East Orange, NJ07017

DOB: 6/22/1977

Top Count: Enterprise Corruption (PL460.20)

Additional Charges: Two Counts of Grand Larceny- 3rd Degree (PL155.35), Conspiracy- 5th Degree (PL105.05)

13. Kevin Marshall

1410 Parkchester Road

Bronx, NY10462

DOB: 7/24/1980 (CHECK THE YEAR)

Top Count: Enterprise Corruption (PL460.20)

Additional Charges: Two Counts of Grand Larceny- 3rd Degree (PL155.35), Five Counts of Grand Larceny- 4th Degree (PL155.30), Two Counts of Att. Grand Larceny- 4th Degree (PL110/155.30), Two Counts of Conspiracy- 5th Degree (PL105.05), Scheme to Defraud- 1st Degree (PL190.65), Two Counts of Identity Theft- 1st Degree, Identity Theft- 2nd Degree

14. John Doe #2

Top Count: Enterprise Corruption (PL460.20)

Additional Charges: Grand Larceny- 3rd Degree (PL155.35), Three Counts of Att. Grand Larceny- 3rd Degree (PL110/155.35)

15. Jane Doe #1

Top Count: Enterprise Corruption (PL460.20)

Additional Charges: Three Counts of Grand Larceny- 4th Degree (PL155.30), Criminal Possession of Stolen Property- 4th Degree (PL165.45)

16. Ayodele Rosiji

100 – 23 198th Street

Hollis, NY11423

DOB: 8/2/1988

Top Count: Enterprise Corruption (PL460.20)

Additional Charges: Three Counts of Att. Grand Larceny- 3rd Degree (PL110/155.35), Conspiracy- 5th Degree (PL105.05)

17. Ethel Jones

5515 West Market

Greensboro, NC27409

DOB: 7/17/1984

Top Count: Grand Larceny- 4th Degree (PL 155.30)

18. Kelechi Ekwegh a/k/a "KC"

272 Maple Parkway

Staten Island, NY10303

DOB: 6/8/1979

Top Count: Grand Larceny- 3rd Degree (PL155.35)