A former NFL player was sentenced to a year in prison for a “kickback scheme” that prosecutors say defrauded his employer at the time, Capital One-owned online brokerage ShareBuilder, of $1.5 million.
Augustine Olobia pleaded guilty in April to wire fraud, admitting he took payments for falsifying data on account referrals from a third-party vendor while working at ShareBuilder in Seattle from 1999 to 2013. The vendor, Tega Creative, got a payout of $40-$55 every time a customer opened a ShareBuilder account through its marketing efforts.
Olobia, who managed third-party vendors advertising the company’s services, manipulated ShareBuilder’s computer system to inflate the number of account openings attributed to Tega Creative’s marketing and then OK’d invoices. In exchange he was “secretly” paid about a third of the proceeds of the fraud, prosecutors said.
In addition to the year in prison, Olobia was fined $500,000, the amount he made over the five years he perpetrated the scheme, prosecutors said.
“You made a severe mistake … You were taking too much pride in things that didn’t matter,” U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik said at the sentencing hearing.
Other ShareBuilder employees discovered the scheme after Olobia left the company. They found out after attempting to reconcile the number of new accounts attributed to Tega’s marketing.
Olobia played football at Washington State University, and he was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1992. According to his LinkedIn profile, Olobia is a senior manager in digital marketing at Pier 1 Imports.
ShareBuilder was acquired in 2007 by ING Direct, a subsidiary of global financial institution ING Group, for $220 million. Four years later, Capital One acquired ING for $9 billion, making its entrance to the Seattle market.
Earlier this year, GeekWire reported that Capital One will close its Seattle tech hub. Meanwhile, the ShareBuilder 401k retirement service recently became independent again after a co-founder and several former Capital One executives bought it back.