A Kenyan man who defrauded $362,692 from the University of California San Diego (UCSD) in an elaborate "spear-phishing" scheme was sentenced Oct. 10 to 33 months in federal prison.
Amil Hassan Raage, 48, was given the 2-year, 9-month sentence by U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, after his attorney recommended a 21-month term and the prosecutor sought 46 months.
A restitution hearing was set for Dec. 6. The actual loss from UCSD is $362,692.40. The total stolen from UCSD was $749,158, as the university was able to get some of the money back after Raage's assets were frozen.
One of Raage's co-conspirators in Kenya redirected payments UCSD was making to Dell Marketing for computer equipment and professional services to a bank account that Raage controlled in Minnesota.
The first bogus email closely matched the real email address of a Dell employee and it instructed payments to be sent to Raage's trucking business in Minnesota, where he lived at the time before he fled to Kenya. The U.S. attorney's office called this a "spear-phishing" fraudulent activity.
For five weeks in 2018, UCSD sent 28 payments to Raage's bank account. They stopped payments when they discovered the fraud.
His attorney, John Cotsirilos, told the judge that if Raage was out working, he could pay the restitution back faster. Cotsirilos said this was his first criminal offense. He was born in Somalia and immigrated to the U.S. at age 19.
Raage has been a truck driver for 24 years and operated his own trucking business. He has been married six times and has six children, according to court documents filed by his attorney.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexandra Foster said Raage also defrauded an unnamed university in Pennsylvania in a similar manner. That university had a loss of $123,643, she said.
"Mr. Raage made almost a million dollars on this," said Foster, referring to thefts at both universities.
Foster said when Raage fled Minnesota, leaving behind his wife and children, he married a 19-year-old woman in Kenya. Police in Kenya arrested him May 9 and extradited him here.
Wearing an orange jump suit, Raage declined to say anything on his behalf after the judge asked him if he wanted to make a statement.
Raage pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in August. U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer, Jr., said at the time that, "modern criminals like Raage have ditched the ski mask and getaway vehicle and opted for a computer as their weapon of choice."
"As this defendant has learned, we are matching wits with new-age thieves and successfully tracking them down and putting an end to their high-tech deception," said Brewer.
Although the U.S. attorney's office said others were involved in the scheme in Kenya, no one else has been charged so far.