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Dec 11, 2012 8:13 PM by Lorraine Rivera

Sierra Vista police take down fraud suspect

SIERRA VISTA - Sierra Vista Police are calling the 58 count federal indictment against a Nigerian man "historic" in nature. Authorities arrested Osabuohien Odyssey Oronsaye on Friday in Mesa and charged him with crimes including wire fraud, false claims, aggravated identity theft, and credit card fraud.

Detective Colin Festa says he and the property crimes unit began working the case in February 2012 after receiving a call from an employee at Cochise College who found a flash drive left in a computer. College employees tried to identify the drive's owner but instead found numerous files containing identity and financial information. Festa tracked the flash drive back to 34-year-old Osabuohien Odyssey Oronsaye.

According to Festa, the investigation revealed Oronsaye had purchased names and information online, and was using the information to prepare tax returns; that money was then placed on prepaid debit cards, "he was using them to file tax returns. Making up information as to where they work, how much they made, claiming overpayment and looking to get the overpayment refunded to prepaid debit cards he was buying," Festa explained.

It's believed Oronsaye found personal information for between 800 and 900 people. Festa said Oronsay got information including names, birth dates, social security card numbers and even bank account numbers. He said Oronsaye had been stealing information for at least two years and from his home in Sierra Vista. "Filing from his apartment complex using his neighbors internet connection and computers at Cochise College." Festa's investigation revealed Oronsaye purchased the information for approximately $1.50 a name and in most cases the seller was an individual in Vietnam.

The victims range from all ages and represent every state and there are some in Puerto Rico. Festa said many of the victims had fallen for an internet scam or a phony internet loan, "the remainder of them fell for what we call phishing scams where they thought they received actual email from AOL or Bank of America telling them they had to update their information, they followed the links in the email, updated their information but the links had taken them to Vietnam or something else."

In a press release, SVPD said many of these scams are sent via email to look like a credit card company or a bank trying to verify account information. Account holders will then answer the email thinking it is legitimate and unknowingly provide criminals with personal information.

None of the victims live in Sierra Vista and only a handful were from Arizona. Festa said he sent letters to all of the victims but only made contact with approximately 100.

The Sierra Vista Police Department advises not to answer email or phone inquiries regarding personal information. Anyone receiving a call or email like this should contact the bank or credit card companies themselves to make sure it is legitimate.

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