A federal judge sentenced an Encino man on Monday to 66 months in prison for stealing the identities of thousands of customers in the earlier of two cases involving ChoicePoint Inc., a public records database firm.

Adedayo Benson, who pleaded guilty in November to fraudulently obtaining and using credit card numbers, must also pay $155,000 in restitution to 10 financial institutions.

The Benson case was the first of two identity theft cases to hit ChoicePoint.

In the later case, a North Hollywood man pleaded no contest on Feb. 17 to identity theft charges brought by the Los Angeles County District Attorney. Olatunji Oluwatosin was sentenced to 16 months in state prison for accessing credit reports, Social Security numbers and other personal information of thousands of ChoicePoint customers. The charges against Oluwatosin were brought as part of what was suspected to be a wide-ranging investigation into the theft of information from as many as 145,000 ChoicePoint records. ChoicePoint is based in Alpharetta, Ga.

Though he has spoken at length about the most recent case, ChoicePoint Chief Executive Derek Smith has declined to answer questions about the Benson thefts. Benson and his sister, Babiana Benson, also stole identities from Advantage Financial and Equifax, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Babiana Benson pleaded guilty in September 2002 to charges of selling the personal information for $40 to $65. She was charged with causing $1 million in losses and sentenced to 54 months in federal prison. She is appealing her sentence.

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