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Thursday, June 13, 2024 | Back issues
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French national sentenced to 10 years in prison for stealing $1.8 million from California controller office

Gabriel Adrien Lobe Diop must pay restitution and spend 10 years in jail for stealing $1.8 million in unclaimed property from the California State Controller’s Office’s Unclaimed Property Division.

(CN) — A French national living in California was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Monday and ordered to pay restitution for stealing the identities of people whom the California State Controller’s Office’s Unclaimed Property Division was holding funds for, and then submitting applications for their property. 

When law enforcement officers raided Gabriel Adrien Lobe Diop’s home in Agoura Hills in 2021, they found 12 fake drivers licenses, bank cards and checkbooks and counterfeit stamps Diop used to notarize applications for unclaimed property that weren't his through the State Controller’s Office’s Unclaimed Property Division, according to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California in a press release.

“It took a remarkable amount of energy for the defendant to steal nearly $2 million from the State Controller’s Office and attempt to steal millions more,” said U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert in a statement. “Today’s sentence should make it clear to the defendant and to those who would imitate him that my office and our law enforcement partners will put a similar amount of energy into bringing those who commit serious white-collar crimes to justice.”

Prosecutors in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California claimed that from 2019 to 2021, Diop successfully stole at least $1.8 million in unclaimed property by submitting fake applications to the State Controller’s Office and hiding the fraud through an elaborate scheme using post office boxes, mail forwarding requests, counterfeit notary stamps and fake driver licenses from a number of different states.

Diop pleaded guilty to nine counts of mail fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft in 2023.

Owners of unclaimed property — including money, stocks, bonds, securities, insurance benefits and other funds that businesses turn over to the State Controller’s Office when they can’t contact the rightful owners of the funds — can file claims for their property with the office. Diop attempted to steal another $9 million, prosecutors added.   

Diop was also ordered by senior United States District Judge William B. Shubb, a George H.W. Bush appointee, to pay $1.8 million in restitution. 

“The State Controller’s Office has a zero-tolerance policy on any criminal activities related to theft from the Unclaimed Property Division and will not tolerate theft of property we are here to protect,” said State Controller Malia Cohen. “Mr. Diop’s sophisticated fraud scheme was insufficient to bypass detection, and he was ultimately apprehended, tried, and convicted for his criminal activities. I believe Diop’s sentence was appropriate and want to thank law enforcement for working together with various agencies including my office for their good work in bringing him to justice.”  

Diop’s attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Categories / Criminal, Financial, Regional

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