LOS ANGELES -- A Nigerian man was sentenced yesterday to 16 months in prison after pleading no contest to charges that he participated in a massive identity theft scheme involving stolen consumer information from data warehouser ChoicePoint Inc.
Los Angeles County prosecutors said the case against Olatunji Oluwatosin, 41, was part of a ''much larger investigation" into allegations of fraudulent access to the data-gathering company's personal information database. Authorities say Oluwatosin is not cooperating in the probe.
ChoicePoint is notifying 145,000 people that their personal information may have been stolen. The company was formerly a unit of the credit reporting agency Equifax, but has been a separate company since 1997.
ChoicePoint acknowledged this week that thieves apparently used stolen identities to create bogus businesses and open 50 accounts with ChoicePoint, which is based in Alpharetta, Ga. The thieves obtained volumes of data on consumers, including names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and credit reports.
ChoicePoint keeps databases with about 19 billion public records. It sells personal information on US residents.
The ring operated for over a year before it was detected.
ChoicePoint initially notified only 35,000 people in California of the identity theft threat because the state has a law mandating that firms possessing personal information must notify people if it is compromised. The firm expanded its warnings after learning that the fraud ring was national.
The attack could galvanize support for a federal law protecting consumers from corporate security breaches.