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Published November 21 2011

Fargo’s US Bank call center tips officials to massive fraud scheme

FARGO – For at least five years, Adekunle Adetiloye allegedly commanded an extensive fraud scheme that was all about the numbers.

Big numbers.

Federal prosecutors say that between 2004 and 2009, the Toronto man gained access to private information belonging to more than 15,700 people, opened 559 fraudulent bank accounts and bilked 22 major banks out of nearly $1 million.

U.S. Bank was among the corporate victims and stood to lose the most of any bank targeted by the scheme.

The bank’s customer service center in Fargo intercepted calls Adetiloye and his accomplices made when they opened credit card accounts there using identities and personal information they’d stolen.

Because of that link to the investigation, federal attorneys prosecuted the case in Fargo’s U.S. District Court, where Adetiloye will be sentenced this week during a hearing that’s scheduled to last through Wednesday.

Much like the scheme itself, a similar numbers game could influence how much time Adetiloye spends behind bars.

He faces up to 30 years in prison, and federal prosecutors are seeking the maximum penalty.

Adetiloye’s attorney said his client deserves less. They dispute several key points prosecutors argue, such as the amount of money lost, the number of victims and the extent of Adetiloye’s involvement in the extensive scheme.

Adetiloye pleaded guilty in February to one count of mail fraud.

On paper, that might not seem like much compared to the 10-count indictment Adetiloye originally faced when he was extradited from Canada in May 2010.

But prosecutors argue in memos filed in U.S. District Court that the severity and scope of Adetiloye’s crimes is no less after his guilty plea for the single charge.

The complex details of the scheme and the federal investigation that followed are laid out in dozens of court documents filed since May 2010.

Fraud schemes that originate outside the United States but target American residents are very difficult to prosecute, which is why the masterminds of such schemes are rarely brought to justice, federal prosecutors have said.

Massive scheme by the numbers

Bank experts and federal investigators say the massive fraud scheme Adekunle Adetiloye allegedly led between 2004 and 2009 was among the largest and most complex they’ve ever seen.

The investigation

Source: U.S. District Court documents

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541