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Dave Kolpack, Associated Press, Published March 23 2012

Judge orders $1,700 restitution in bank fraud case

FARGO – Federal prosecutors in North Dakota came up woefully short in their attempt to make a Canadian man pay back three-quarters of a million dollars in a credit card fraud scheme.

Adekunle Adetiloye pleaded guilty in February 2011 and was sentenced in a case that some called one of the largest high-tech bank robberies in U.S. history.

Prosecutors claim Adetiloye – a native of Nigeria who was living in Toronto – stole the identities of about 38,000 people and bilked companies and others out of as much as $1.5 million.

A judge this week ruled that Adetiloye only has to cough up less than $1,700, after the government asked for nearly $744,000. A defense attorney had argued the restitution should be closer to $110,000.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson ruled Thursday that prosecutors proved losses of $1,659.72.

“Here, there is an absence of evidence provided by the government upon which the court can determine, even to a preponderance of the evidence, the precise number of victims that sustained a loss,” Erickson wrote.

U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon would not comment on Erickson’s ruling.

Neil Fulton, federal public defender for North Dakota and South Dakota, said his office is “taking a careful look” at Erickson’s restitution order.

“We will discuss all his possible legal options, but he has made no decisions on how to proceed next at this point,” Fulton said of his client.

Adetiloye, 40, filed notice to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this month that he was appealing the sentence of nearly 18 years in prison.

Erickson ordered Adetiloye to pay $918.22 to one company for mailings to customers and two men whose identities were compromised.

Prosecutors had submitted a list of 47 people and 22 companies that were owed money. The largest requests for restitution are about $248,000 by Discover, $230,000 by Citigroup and $163,000 by LexisNexis. The largest claim by an individual is more than $14,000.

Typically, convicted defendants do not fulfill restitution obligations.

The case wound up in North Dakota because U.S. Bank’s customer service center in Fargo intercepted calls by Adetiloye and others. Adetiloye is the only person charged and was sentenced in January to nearly 214 months in prison.

Credit card fraud investigators testified during Adetiloye’s sentencing hearing that the fraud was one of the most complex cases they had ever seen. U.S. Bank held special training sessions on the case in hope of catching the culprits.

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