Three people arrested in Bountiful on suspicion of defrauding 30 victims under payday loan scheme

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(From left to right) Lateek Leonard, Martin Bokanga, Djimy Okutennde. Photos: Davis County Jail

BOUNTIFUL, Utah, April 25, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) – Three men were arrested on Wednesday and now face felony charges of fraud involving up to 30 victims.

The suspects are Lateek Ramon Leonard, 41, Martin Bokanga, 50, and Djimy Okutennde, 33.

Each suspect was charged with 10 counts of identity theft; 10 counts of communications fraud; and 10 counts of forgery, all third degree felonies. They are also each charged with Possession of Others’ Identification Documents, a Class A misdemeanor.

According to a probable cause statement filed in Farmington 2nd District Court by an officer from the Bountiful Police Department, officers responded to a report on Wednesday of a suspicious circumstance at FedEx.

The arriving officers saw four men in two different vehicles.

Employees told officers four men were outside the store and a few of them continued to enter and act suspiciously, the document said. The same men were also in attendance last Thursday and behaving the same, an employee said.

When officers spoke to them, the three men told various stories about how they knew the fourth man, according to the indictment document.

The assessor spoke to the fourth man separately, who said his name was Michael.

“Michael collapsed and told me he didn’t know these men and that they had just picked him up near 1300 South West Temple in Salt Lake City,” the officer said in the statement.

The men had parked in a silver Infiniti and asked Michael if he wanted to earn between $ 1,000 and $ 2,000, the statement said. They also asked him if he had a Utah ID card. Michael told them he had done it and agreed to go with them.

They went in two vehicles to FedEx in Bountiful, and Djimy Okutennde asked to see Michael’s ID, according to the probable cause statement.

“The man then walked in and printed a fraudulent pay stub in Michael’s name,” as well as another document showing a Wells Fargo account, using all of Michael’s personal identifying information.

Michael told the agent that he had never worked for the company listed on the pay stub and that he did not have an account with Wells Fargo.

“It is common for people carrying out fraudulent activities to pick up a homeless person and use him to cash fraudulent checks or commit credit card fraud…” the assessor said.

A search warrant was obtained for the two vehicles, one belonging to Bokanga and the other to Okutennde.

During the vehicle search, the officer located documents for “about 30” third-party victims whose identities may have been stolen, the document said.

The three suspects were taken to the Bountiful Police Department, where Martin Bokanga and Lateek Leonard refused to speak without a lawyer.

After being miranded, Okutennde said he would speak with the officer.

According to the document, Okutennde said that there is a person known as Sly, who finds people who want to make money, and Sly contacts Okutennde, who goes looking for the person and makes sure they are has the information needed to apply for a payday loan.

Okutennde said an email was sent to FedEx with a fraudulent pay stub and a fraudulent document stating that Michael had an active Wells Fargo account. Both documents were found inside Bokanga’s vehicle, the officer said. The payday loan money would then be distributed among the men, with Michael getting the smallest amount and bad credit history when the loan was not repaid.

Okutennde admitted to carrying out this criminal activity in the previous year and admitted to finding people to do it with himself, the document said.

He also told the officer that the other two men, Bokanga and Leonard, knew what was going on and had worked with him in the past, the statement said.

The three suspects were held in the Davis County Jail.


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