Description: Indianapolis, Indiana criminal defense lawyer represented Defendant charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Oluwatobi Seton, 28, of Bloomington, Indiana, pleaded guilty to wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
According to court documents, Seton conspired with partners in Nigeria to obtain unemployment and other benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic from state and federal governments by falsely applying for such benefits using the stolen identities of others. Seton and her co-conspirators obtained personal identifiable information of their victims, which they used to open GoBank accounts and obtain debit cards. The conspirators then submitted false and fraudulent employment applications to unemployment agencies throughout the United States in the victims’ names and had the stolen benefits monies deposited into their fraudulent GoBank accounts and onto debit cards. Seton then used fake driver’s licenses in the victims’ names to access the proceeds of the fraud scheme. At the time of her arrest, Seton had over 1,400 GoBank cards and ten driver’s licenses with different names in her possession.
In total, the conspiracy resulted in at least $5,475,459.00 in actual and attempted losses to state unemployment offices and other state and federal agencies: Seton kept a portion of the proceeds for herself and sent the remainder to her conspirators, including her business partners in Nigeria. Investigators seized over $550,000 in cash and GoBank accounts linked to the scheme during the investigation.
“This international criminal enterprise conspired to steal millions of dollars meant to help our citizens as we fought through the unprecedented pandemic,” said United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, Zachary A. Myers. “Fraudsters like this defendant who sought to exploit the urgent need to provide pandemic relief must be held accountable. I commend the work of our partners at the FBI, Bloomington Police Department, and Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, along with our federal prosecutors, to identify criminals like this defendant and ensure that they pay the price for their crimes.”
“Profiting from programs meant to help those in need is a despicable and unacceptable crime in and of itself. But this defendant took it a step further and stole identities to perpetrate this fraud and caused those victims immeasurable time in an effort to clear their names,” said FBI Indianapolis Special Agent in Charge Herbert J. Stapleton. “The FBI and our local law enforcement partners will continue to identify and aggressively pursue those who commit fraud and ensure they are held accountable for their actions.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bloomington Police Department, and Monroe County Sheriff’s Office investigated this case. The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Court Chief Judge, Tanya Walton Pratt. Judge Pratt also ordered that Seton be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for 1 year following her release from federal prison and pay restitution in the amount of $4,309,027.00.
U.S. Attorney Myers thanked Assistant United States Attorney MaryAnn T. Mindrum, who prosecuted this case.
Outcome: Defendant was sentenced to nearly 5.5 years in federal prison.