In Austin this morning, a federal judge sentenced 55-year-old David Akharume Afenkhena to 65 months in prison for stealing mail and personal identification information from hundreds of victims for self enrichment announced United States Attorney Richard Durbin, Jr.; Inspector in Charge Adrian Gonzalez, United States Postal Inspection Service, Houston Division; Special Agent in Charge William “Bill” Cotter, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, San Antonio Field Office; and, Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), San Antonio.
In addition to the prison term, United States District Judge Sam Sparks ordered that Afenkhena pay $50,961.15 restitution and that he be placed on supervised release for a period of three years after completing his prison term.
On January 23, 2017, Afenkhena pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. By pleading guilty, Afenkhena admitted that in 2016, he used a United States Postal Service (USPS) “Arrow Key” to gain access to the contents of mail boxes located at various apartment complexes in and around Austin. Afterwards, Afenkhena would change the victims’ mailing address to mailboxes he had access to, and then use the stolen personal identification information to open credit card accounts and bank accounts in victims’ names associated with the new fraudulent addresses. He also admitted to using the stolen personal identification information to file fraudulent income tax returns in order to receive refund checks in the mail. Using the USPS Arrow Key, Afenkhena would intercept, and convert to personal use, fraudulently obtained credit/debit cards and tax refund checks.
“The Postal Inspection Service has sought for hundreds of years those who use the Postal Service for illegal gain. The ability to use the mail in a safe and secure manner is at the core of the Postal Inspection Service’s mission. When criminals use the mail to defraud, Postal Inspectors will not hesitate to ensure they are brought to justice,” stated Inspector in Charge Adrian Gonzalez, United States Postal Inspection Service.
“Identity theft is a contemptible modern-day scourge,” said Special Agent in Charge William J. Cotter, IRS- Criminal Investigation, San Antonio Field Office. “Law enforcement officers respond to it with every legal resource available. Let this sentencing serve as a warning to those who are considering similar conduct.”
“The fraudulent use of identification documents, both real and counterfeit, represents a very real threat to public safety,” said Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden, HSI San Antonio. “Through the combined authorities and expertise of our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, we will continue to aggressively target those participating in or facilitating these crimes.”
The United States Postal Inspection Service, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation and Homeland Security Investigations conducted this investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Michael Galdo prosecuted this case on behalf of the Government.