Originally created 03/03/05

Report: ChoicePoint had identity theft case years ago



LOS ANGELES - A Nigerian-born man and woman were arrested in 2002 on charges of using ChoicePoint Inc. to tap into its vast database of personal information, a security breach similar to the one announced by the data warehouser last month, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

Bibiana Benson, 39, and her brother, Adedayo Benson, 38, gained access to at least 7,000 people and used their identities to buy at least $1 million in merchandise, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing court documents.

According to the Times, Bibiana Benson pleaded guilty to opening ChoicePoint accounts in 2000 by using a real estate broker's license and driver's license for identification. Both licenses were fake, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Krause.

Prosecutors said she obtained personal information, including Social Security numbers and addresses, and sold the data to mainly Nigerian immigrants for $40 to $50 per name.

She pleaded guilty in September 2002 to one felony count of unlawful use of identification and was sentenced to 54 months in prison. She is appealing the sentence.

Adedayo Benson pleaded guilty in November to three felony counts in connection to the use and attempted use of fake credit cards. He was scheduled to be sentenced Monday.

A phone call to a ChoicePoint representative seeking comment was not immediately returned early Wednesday. The company is based outside Atlanta.

Last month, another Nigerian man pleaded no contest to creating a bogus business account with ChoicePoint and obtaining information from at least 145,000 records. Olatunji Oluwatosin, 41, was sentenced to 16 months in prison. Prosecutors said he was arrested in October with five cell phones and three credit cards that belonged to other people.

Authorities said that it's unclear whether there is a connection between the cases.