14-year sentence for longtime fraudster
Man hired prostitutes to steal identities
A longtime fraudster who hired prostitutes to steal people’s identities was sentenced to 14 years in prison Friday.
Michael Oginni stole more than $650,000 over two years, spending the money on call girls, high-end appliances for his Rockville, Maryland, home and tuition for his four children at exclusive private schools, according to prosecutors.
When he was arrested at a supermarket in Ohio last July, court papers say, Oginni was carrying 54 fake credit cards, 35 debit cards, several phones and a laptop filled with hacking and counterfeiting software under the filename “Very Big Fraud Package.zip.”
During his sentencing hearing Friday in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, Oginni said he had not appreciated the human cost of his crimes after pleading guilty to fraud and identity theft. “I’m not a monster,” he said. “I’m not an evil man.” But prosecutor Laura Fong called him a “criminal mastermind” who hired vulnerable people to do his dirty work and beat them when they failed to comply.
A native of Nigeria, Oginni came to the United States in 2007 after getting out of prison in the United Kingdom for student-loan fraud. In the Washington area, according to court filings, he recruited a band of prostitutes and heroin addicts to buy gift cards at convenience stores, wash the markings off with acetone and encode them with stolen credit card information.
From a laptop at a Rockville Starbucks, Oginni would instruct his co-conspirators on what to wear and say when they used the cards, Fong said.
When credit card companies began using chips to prevent this kind of fraud, Oginni turned to opening new credit accounts in strangers’ names. He scouted online records for people with high credit scores and substantial wealth, then ordered counterfeit drivers’ licenses with their information but his subordinates’ photos.