Lawyers argue over restitution by man convicted in North Dakota for massive credit card scheme


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FARGO, North Dakota — Lawyers in the case of a man convicted in North Dakota more than two years ago for what was deemed one of the largest credit card schemes in the country are arguing over the amount of money lost by the victims and gained by the defendant.

Adekunle Adetiloye was sentenced in January 2012 to 18 years in prison for mail fraud, following a yearslong investigation into fake debt collection agencies. Authorities say he stole the identities of about 38,000 people and bilked companies out of about $1.5 million.

Prosecutors called it high-tech bank robbery.

A judge in March 2012 ruled that Adetiloye should pay back about $1,700, after prosecutors asked for nearly $744,000. The government appealed, contending that the court improperly denied restitution to nearly all of the victims and miscalculated the value of property Adetiloye was required to forfeit because of the scheme.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in May sent the case back to district court and said the monetary judgment should be reconsidered.

Prosectuors are now seeking forfeiture of more than $689,000. Defense attorney Steven Morrison said his client should pay about $18,000. The government, Morrison said in court documents, does not establish that Adetiloye was the "direct and proximate cause of the vast majority of the victims' losses."

Investigators said Adetiloye incorporated two different companies in Delaware — Syspac Financial Services and Commet Consultant Inc. — that claimed to be debt collection companies. He gained access to commercial data providers, including large-scale outfits LexisNexis and ChoicePoint that only allow access to law enforcement, financial services and debt collection companies.

"Characterizing this fraud scheme as massive, if anything, is an understatement," Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Chase said in court documents.

Final written arguments are due in two weeks.

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