Computer Technician Stole Personal Information of 2,000 Bank of New York Employees Orchestrated More Than $1.1 Million in Thefts from Charities and Nonprofits

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., announced today the guilty plea of ADENIYI ADEYEMI, 27, a computer technician formerly employed as a contractor at the headquarters of the Bank of New York. ADEYEMI admitted to stealing a list of personal identifying information of 2,000 bank employees, and using this information to orchestrate thefts of more than $1.1 million from charities and nonprofit organizations, among other institutions, over an eight-year period. ADEYEMI pled guilty to the top charges in the indictment, Grand Larceny in the First Degree and Money Laundering in the First Degree, as well as to the felony charge of Computer Tampering in the First Degree. He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 21, 2010. In addition to pleading guilty, ADEYEMI signed a confession of judgment and forfeiture stipulation acknowledging an outstanding debt of $393,423 to E*Trade and Chase Bank, and forfeiting $29,285 in cash seized from ADEYEMI’s apartment along with an E*Trade account in ADEYEMI’s name worth approximately $46,000.

“This defendant invaded the privacy of thousands of employees by stealing their personal and private information,” said District Attorney Vance. “He victimized his colleagues, charities, and nonprofits. Particularly because Identity theft is such a serious problem in our city and nation, I thank the members of our Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau for their work on these difficult cases.”

As described in the court’s official record at the defendant’s arraignment on October 28, 2009, the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea revealed that in the course of ADEYEMI’s tenure at Bank of New York, he stole the personal identifying information of 2,000 Bank of New York employees, mainly in the Information Technology Department, where he was assigned. In the years that followed, ADEYEMI used the employees’ personal identifiers to open more than 30 bank and brokerage accounts in their identities with several financial institutions, including E*Trade, Fidelity, Citigroup, Wachovia, and Washington Mutual. These accounts served as dummy accounts for the purpose of receiving stolen funds. ADEYEMI then stole money from the bank accounts of charities and nonprofit organizations and funneled it into the dummy accounts, set up through E*Trade and Fidelity. He then input the charities’ banking details, including account and routing numbers, to set up wire transfers on the E*Trade and Fidelity sites from the charities’ account to his dummy accounts, and withdrew the stolen funds or transferred them to a second layer of dummy accounts. In the interests of facilitating donations, many charities readily disseminate their banking details on the Internet, making them easy prey for unauthorized withdrawals by identity thieves, particularly those with computer expertise such as ADEYEMI. Most of ADEYEMI’s thefts were perpetrated over the Internet.

The victimized organizations included Goodwill Industries of Greater New York and New Jersey, Iris Ministries, the Kalgidhar Trust, the Sudanese American Community Development Organization, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, AFK Foundation, the American Community School at Beirut, the Jacksonville Humane Society, American Friends of Birdlife International, the International Association of Women Judges, the Space Generation Advisory Council, and the American Association for Clinical Chemistry.

As ADEYEMI admitted before Justice Berkman yesterday, he also stole from the Bank of New York employees themselves. He exploited his theft of their personal identification information, by changing the contact information associated with the employees’ online banking profiles, taking control of their online banking capabilities, and wiring money from the employees’ personal bank accounts to dummy accounts he had established. To avoid scrutiny, ADEYEMI structured all such wire transfers to be just under $10,000, the threshold at which all financial institutions must report transactions to the United States Treasury. ADEYEMI stole more than $128,000 by compromising Bank of New York employees’ online banking profiles in this manner. Among other purchases, ADEYEMI used these stolen proceeds to buy additional United States Postal Service (“USPS”) money orders. All told, ADEYEMI purchased more than $100,000 in USPS money orders using stolen funds. ADEYEMI redeemed these money orders, among other things, to pay personal expenses such as rent on his apartment and his credit card bills. ADEYEMI also redeemed USPS money orders to ship substantial volumes of goods overseas, primarily to Nigeria.

As described in the court’s official record at the defendant’s arraignment on October 28, 2009, ADEYEMI came under surveillance by the New York/New Jersey Electronic Crimes Task Force of the United States Secret Service when suspicious Internet activity traced back to wireless Internet connections in ADEYEMI’s apartment building, and mail connected to the fraud was delivered to the various apartments within the building. In executing a court-authorized search warrant of ADEYEMI’s apartment on April 30, 2009, investigators found dozens of Bank of New York employees’ credit reports on his computer, along with a list containing the personal identifying information of 2,000 Bank of New York employees. In a storage locker ADEYEMI rented, the investigative team found notebooks containing hundreds of names, social security numbers, account numbers, and other personal data, along with numerous credit cards in Bank of New York employees’ names. ADEYEMI was arrested in the course of the search warrant execution, and has remained in custody since.

District Attorney Vance thanked the Bank of New York Mellon, particularly Vice President for Corporate Security George Sulfaro, for the bank’s assistance in uncovering the scope and depth of the data breach; and the New York/New Jersey Electronic Crimes Task Force (ECTF) of the United States Secret Service, particularly Special Agent Prasanth Kurian, lead investigator on the case, and Special Agent Robert Novy, supervisor of the ECTF.

The District Attorney also thanked investigators from the following institutions: JPMorgan Chase Bank, E*Trade, Fidelity Investments, Bank of America, Wachovia, the New York Police Department, and the United States Postal Inspection Service.
District Attorney Vance thanked Assistant District Attorney Ehren Reynolds, who handled the prosecution of the case under the supervision of Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau Chief David Szuchman. Investigative Analyst Michelle Moy assisted in the investigation, and Senior Forensic Examiner Richard Brittson and Forensic Examiner John Forames also assisted, along with the District Attorney’s Investigation Bureau.

Defendant Information:
ADENIYI ADEYEMI, 9/12/82
Brooklyn, New York

Convictions:

* Grand Larceny in the First Degree, class B felony
* Money Laundering in the First Degree, class B felony
* Computer Tampering in the First Degree, class C felony

A class B felony is punishable by a sentence of up to 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison and a class C felony is punishable by up to 5 to 15 years in prison.

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