Two men who led a scheme to steal $50 million from U.S. banks and hundreds of people around the world were sentenced Monday in federal court in Minneapolis.
U.S. District Judge Michael Davis sentenced Julian Okeayainneh, 44, of California to 27 years in prison for his role in the conspiracy. Davis also sentenced Olugbenga Adeniran, 36, of New York to 22 years. The two men were convicted in February on multiple counts, including bank fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft.
The case grew out of a multiyear investigation dubbed "Operation Starburst" by the Minnesota Financial Crimes Task Force, a joint operation of federal, state and local law enforcement. The government says the fraud operated from 2006 to 2011 in six states.
The scheme victimized more than 500 people worldwide and 11 major financial institutions, according to U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones.
"How problematic that is if you are the victim of identity theft, and if you can imagine that compounded by hundreds," said Jones. "Then add in a flavor of someone actually working inside a bank to give up that kind of information to fraudsters, that's the combination that you saw resulting in the sentences that chief Judge Davis handed down."
Authorities say it's unclear how many victims lived in Minnesota. Other victims are from California, Massachusetts, Arizona, New York and Texas.
More than two dozen people have either pleaded guilty or been convicted in the case.