Police bust identity theft scheme that netted $650k

Jessica Willey Image
Friday, August 12, 2016
Business owners accused of aiding identity fraud
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Two local business owners are accused of helping an identity theft suspect steal nearly $700,000 using fraudulent credit cards.

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Three people have been busted in connection to a large-scale credit card scheme that allegedly used two southwest Houston businesses to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars.

According to court records, Shalewa Olayinka, 53, applied for and obtained 116 credit cards from eight different financial institutions in 12 other people's names. He would allegedly apply for the credit card using a victim's information and then steal the card out of his or her mailbox when the card arrived.

Financial crimes investigators with the Harris County Sheriff's Office say Olayinka had a Square card reader attached to his cell phone under the business name "Sleek Auto Sales" and would run the fraudulent credit cards in his southwest Houston apartment. The money was then deposited into his bank account.

SEE ALSO: Thieves rip off $34,000 from Houston store with stolen cards

He conspired, investigators say, with two local business owners, who are also charged. Christy Tifase owns Lagos Island Café on Highway 6 South, a west African food restaurant. Maxwell Ezenwa owns Lace Warehouse and African Fashions on Bissonnet. They're accused of also running the credit cards for payments at their businesses.

Investigators say the operation stole more than $650,000.

All three face a charge of engaging in organized criminal activity, a felony.

When Eyewitness News went to Lagos Island Café, Tifase's daughter said she wasn't aware of the allegation against her mother.

Tifase is expected to surrender. Olayinka remains in jail on a $30,000 bond. Ezenwa is out of jail on bond.