Authorities are cracking down on identity theft rings, so it doesn't come as a surprise that there have been a lot of recent arrests and convictions in Florida. According to the Federal Trade Commission, Florida tops the nation in identity theft complaints—especially in the greater Miami area. Here are the latest ID theft cases with links to the Sunshine State.
Alleged ID theft ring targets resort customers
Nearly 1,900 people had their identities stolen by what police say is a widespread identity theft ring based out of a Florida resort chain, the Orlando Sentinel reports.ƒ
Xavier Stephens and Bridgett Bennifield allegedly used stolen credit card information that investigators say traced back to resort employee Chrystie Hall.
Stephens and Bennifield are accused of purchasing credit-card information for more than 1,855 customers of Hall's employer for an estimated total loss of estimated at $927,000.
When an elderly man reported to police that someone named "Chrystie Hall" had charged $4,000 to his credit card at a car rental company, investigators used the rental car tracking service to locate the suspects.
When officers found Stephens and Bennifield, police say the couple had more than 1,700 resort reservation documents that included customers' personal information and credit card numbers. Investigators think there may be more than the 1,855 victims identified so far.
The three were charged with a range of crimes, including trafficking counterfeit credit cards and grand theft of an automobile. However, the investigation is ongoing and more charges are expected.
Third woman arrested for $1.5M tax fraud scheme
Police responding to a shoplifting complaint say instead they found a massive Florida-based fraud scheme involving at least 790 stolen identities, according to the SunSentinel.
Sterling Willis is one of three women involved in the alleged ID theft ring. Authorities say Latonia Verdell orchestrated the tax fraud scheme that she operated along with partner Kelli McIntosh. Willis opened bogus bank accounts to receive fraudulent refund proceeds.
The trio allegedly submitted more than 590 false tax returns seeking nearly $1.5 million in refunds.
Prior to Willis's arrest, Verdell and McIntosh had already been charged with wire fraud, identity theft, theft of public money and other related charges. Their trial is set for October 5. Willis doesn't have a trial date yet.
Accused Florida ID thieves face charges in Maryland
Three Florida members of an alleged interstate ID theft ring known as "the Felony Lane Gang" were arrested in Maryland after a traffic stop, the Baltimore Sun reports.
When deputies pulled over Ashley Dupuis, Shaundrick Lowe and Ja'Marri Barnes, they say they found a checkbook, Maryland driver's license, Pennsylvania license plate and debit card that had all been reported stolen.
Dupuis had allegedly fled a local credit union when a teller asked for a Social Security number in order to cash a check. All three are awaiting trial on multiple charges related to identity theft.
Three plead guilty in major tax and ID theft case
A team of Florida identity thieves has pleaded guilty to using patient information to file bogus tax returns to the tune of more than $100,000, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Investigators say Brandi Mary Janice Stroman, Dezman Dunbar Zama and Jerrod Dashon Bosket used patient identities they obtained from a medical service provider to file at least 27 false tax returns totaling $105,313 in fraudulent refunds.
Zama and Bosket are scheduled to be sentenced on September 23, while Stroman is scheduled to be sentenced on October 7. All three face a mandatory term of two years in prison aggravated identity theft charge.
Stroman and Zama also face a maximum of 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and a maximum of 30 years in prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Stroman also faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Jerrod Bosket faces a maximum of ten years in prison for an access device charge.