Wednesday, 10 February 2016 20:53

U.S. v. Chibuko: Aggravated Identity Theft

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Joey Chibuko, a Nigerian national, appealed his conviction and sentence after facing the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut on three counts of aggravated identity theft, along with six other fraud charges. All of the counts arose from 1993 when Chibuko obtained a U.S. tourist visa in Lagos, Nigeria, by falsifying information and then traveled to California where, within two weeks of his arrival, applied for a Social Security number and obtained a number of California state driver's licenses fraudulently.

After the tourist visa expired in December 1993, Chibuko married an American citizen and applied for legal U.S. residence in 1994 on the basis of false information. He was granted conditional residence in the country, which expired in 1997. In 1996, Chibuko was arrested for credit card theft and fraud in Oakland, California, but by the time the charges were filed, he had fled to Massachusetts where he used fraudulently obtained California identity card and Social Security card to take on the identity of Ray Awommack.

Using this name, Chibuko got a job with the operator of group homes for adults with developmental disabilities. While working weekends at one of the facilities, Chibuko stole the birth certificate of Steven Buckley, one of the residents.

Chibuko moved to Connecticut and in 2001 used the stolen birth certificate and Social Security number of Buckley to apply for a U.S. passport, driver's license, mortgages, credit cards, and bank accounts, as well as to apply for jobs at two human services agencies. During this period, the real Steven Buckley received notices from collection agencies. In 2010,

Chibuko was arrested for making a fraudulent passport application, and he was indicted by a federal grand jury for the passport fraud and eight other counts of fraud, including aggravated identity theft and providing false information on various employment and voter registration applications.

Chibuko continued to claim to be Steven Buckley throughout the trial and sentencing, claiming Buckley's birthdate and saying his parents had the same names as Buckley's parents and were from the same town. He claimed that he had been taken to Nigeria at the age of three after his mother died and was raised by his aunt and uncle, Patty and Joseph Chibuko. He said he adopted the name "Joey Chibuko" because it sounded more "local."

He was sentenced by the district court to 168 months in prison, which included three consecutive 24-month sentences. He subsequently appealed his sentence, bringing challenges to his conviction.

 The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the district court's findings in part and remanded, in part, on the several counts and the concurrent sentencing.

Resources

United States v. Chibuko. United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

 

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