The men -- Derrick Polk, 45, of Los Angeles; Oludola Akinmola, 37 and Oladeji Craig, 39, both of Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Oluwajide Ogunbiyi, 32, of Springfield, Ill. -- siphoned an estimated $2.5 million through unauthorized wire transfers or by illegally accessing victims' accounts, according to the U.S. Attorney General's Office in New Jersey.
Federal authorities said the defendants and their co-conspirators hijacked home equity accounts by using personal information -- including names, addresses, birth dates, Social Security numbers and mothers' maiden names, some of which they discovered in publicly available online databases.
Armed with that data, the men, who were charged last week, posed as the victims and were able to trick the banks -- including 11 in New Jersey -- into wiring them money into overseas accounts, prosecutors said.
Four other men previously were charged in connection to the ring.
"Home equity loans of credit are an expanding front in the battle against mortgage fraud," U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie said. "Home owners should carefully review their statements to make sure their hard-earned equity is not disappearing from under their noses."
Each defendant was charged with conspiracy to possess personal information with the intent to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to computers. Each faces up to 50 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines.