A man who would steal people’s mail and information from their computers to set up fraudulent checking accounts pleaded to 21 felonies last Friday. Imoukhuede Ehimika pleaded to 17 felony counts of identity theft and four counts of grand theft, commercial burglary, and money laundering, and agreed to pay back more than $160,000 to his victims. He will be sentenced to five years and eight months in state prison.
Authorities allege Ehimika would get basic bank information from residents in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, specifically from people with a home equity line of credit with their bank. He would then take that information, steal personal mail from mailboxes, and access personal computers through unsecured wireless networks. Through these processes he would obtain birth dates, social security numbers, and more, information he would use to open fraudulent checking accounts in the name of the victim. He would then, authorities say, tie the victims’ line of credit to the fake checking accounts and transfer large sums into the checking accounts.
Eventually, one of the victims noticed suspicious activity, and eventually the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department started investigating. The investigation culminated in the discovery of thousands of pieces of personal information that were recovered from Ehimika’s residence. He was arrested in December 2010.