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

Adekunle Adetiloye allegedly bilked 22 major banks out of nearly $1 million

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.

* 15,700 - Individuals whose private data was accessed through searches.

* 500 - Identities stolen for the purpose of obtaining credit cards.

* 559 - Identified fraudulent bank accounts opened. (Valid personal information was obtained for 448 of the accounts.)

* 131 - Commercial mailboxes opened under false or stolen identities.

* 22 - Banks and credit card companies that were defrauded.

* $977,974 - How much Adetiloye and his co-conspirators actually bilked from banks and credit card companies.

* $2.73 million - How much total Adetiloye attempted to steal (including what he and his co-conspirators actually obtained).

* $5 million - How much Adetiloye could have defrauded the various banks based on available credit limit of the fraudulent credit card accounts he opened.

The investigation

* 5 - Years to investigate and prosecute the case.

* 2,000 - Hours the lead case agent, alone, spent on investigations.

* 25 - Investigators who assisted in the case.

* 130 - Operators of commercial mailbox companies who assisted in the case.

* 11,000 - Pages of case materials and evidence authorities and prosecutors accumulated.

* 9 - U.S. police departments that assisted nationwide.

* 4 - Formal requests of mutual legal assistance American authorities requested from law enforcement agencies in Canada and Great Britain.

Source: U.S. District Court documents