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Document and Benefit Fraud

Career identity thief sentenced to more than 4 years in federal prison for passport fraud

SEATTLE - A former resident of the United Kingdom and Nigeria was sentenced last week to serve 51 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release for using a fraudulently obtained U.S. passport and aggravated identity theft.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) assisted the Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) in investigating this case.

Biodun Okunnuo, 39, was arrested Feb. 18 at the Blaine, Wash., Port of Entry after she was refused entry into Canada. At that time, Okunnuo presented a false U.S. passport, which she had obtained by using a stolen identity. Officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) discovered an outstanding Florida State warrant for her arrest under the alias used on the fake document.

Okunnuo has a 10-year history of identity theft-related crimes in the United States. During her sentencing U.S. District Judge James L. Robart noted that Okunnuo has 17 different aliases, 4 alternate dates of birth, and has previously used 3 different social security numbers. "That is someone who is doing ID theft as a business," Judge Robart said.

According court documents, Okunnuo claims to have entered the United States on a United Kingdom passport in 2000. She settled in Florida, where she was prosecuted multiple times for fraud involving other people's identities, forgery and credit cards. In 2005, she obtained a U.S. passport with a false identity. After a 2006 conviction for grand theft, identity theft and credit card fraud, Okunnuo was sentenced to four years probation. She violated the terms of that probation and a warrant was issued for her arrest. In 2007, she was arrested in Minnesota.

During a search of her vehicle, officers discovered multiple identity documents from different states in a variety of names. Just one month later, Okunnuo was arrested in Florida when she tried to make a withdrawal at a bank using false identification. She was again found to have multiple drivers' licenses in different names and various credit cards in false names. She was sentenced to one year in prison. In 2009 and 2010, Okunnuo traveled abroad using the U.S. passport she obtained with a false identity. She traveled to Nigeria, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Canada. Okunnuo's string of frauds ended when she was arrested at the border.

"The Diplomatic Security Service is committed to investigating and pursuing anyone who applies for or obtains a United States passport using false identification documents," said Patrick Durkin, special agent in charge of the DSS San Francisco field office. "The U.S. passport and visa are two of the most coveted travel documents in the world. There are foreign nationals who fraudulently acquire U.S. passports and visas to carry out criminal activities, including financial fraud, inside our borders. These crimes threaten the livelihood of American citizens and the national security of the United States."