Dallas, Texas Man Sentenced for Illegally Obtaining Money from Pre-Paid Debit Cards

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

SHREVEPORT, La. – United States Attorney Brandon B. Brown announced that Chukwuma N. Okoye, Jr., 38, of Dallas, Texas, has been sentenced by United States District Judge Donald E. Walter to 46 months in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release, for illegally obtaining money using pre-paid debit cards. Okoye was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $2,379,860. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to use unauthorized access devices on November 9, 2021.

According to evidence introduced in court at the guilty plea hearing, Okoye and his co-defendants used unauthorized access devices, specifically, pre-paid Green Dot debit cards which were registered to other individuals to purchase money orders and conduct cash withdrawals. Between July and September of 2020, Okoye and others traveled from Texas to Bossier City, Louisiana, where the Green Dot cards were used at a Walmart store on Airline Drive in Bossier City.

The funds on the Green Dot cards originated from fraudulently obtained Washington State unemployment insurance and Small Business Administration (SBA) loans which were obtained by unknown individuals. After those funds were deposited into PayPal accounts, unknown individuals transferred funds to the Green Dot cards and the cards were then used at online retailers and various physical retail stores. All of the PayPal accounts and Green Dot cards involved in the scheme had been opened by unknown individuals, using stolen personal identifying information.

The investigation uncovered 29 PayPal accounts which were utilized to fund the Green Dot cards used at the Bossier City Walmart during the conspiracy. These 29 accounts were found to contain a total of $729,300 in illicit funds which were seized.

Okoye’s co-defendants, Patrick N. Madubuko and Barnabas Akporehe, are fugitives.   If you have any information about their whereabouts, please contact your local U.S. Secret Service office or go to www.usmarshals.gov/tips

The case was investigated by the United States Secret Service and the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian C. Flanagan.

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