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03-30-07, 12:27 AM #1
ID Fraud Scheme - 1 Million in Loss
One victim's complaint unravels ID fraud scheme
By Greg Gross
UNION-TRIBUNE BREAKING NEWS TEAM
12:41 p.m. March 29, 2007
VISTA – A single fraud complaint nine months ago to sheriff's deputies here has led to the uncovering of an identity fraud scheme with more than 100 victims and financial losses close to $1 million, officials said Thursday.
Investigators expect both the number of victims and the amount of the losses to grow, said Sheriff's Capt. Glenn Revell.
“We thought we had only one or two victims in this,” Revell said. “But as our detectives here in the Vista station started getting into it, they started seeing patterns emerging. This thing grew exponentially, and it's not over yet.”
Both individuals and businesses were among the victims of the scheme, which officials said involved the sophisticated use of computers.
Six people, including three Vista residents, have been arrested. They are accused of 11 felonies, including identity theft, computer fraud, grand theft, commercial burglary, forgery, forging driver's licenses and conspiracy – more than 180 counts in all.
Investigators identified Michael Hartsell of Vista as the suspected ringleader. They say Hartsell, 50, used his financing company, First Choice Mortgage, to invade the databases of three major credit agencies to obtain personal information on their chosen victims.
That information was then used to obtain phony credit cards and make fraudulent purchases, and was then passed on or perhaps sold to other felons, authorities said.
Once deputies realized the size and scope of the ring, the probe eventually reached north to Orange County and involved sheriff's investigators from both regions, as well as the Escondido Police Department, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Secret Service.
The Nordstrom department store was hit by this ring for at least $22,000 in fraudulent purchases, according to an investigator from the Orange County District Attorney's Office. (The investigator asked that his name not be used because he has received death threats in connection with this case.)
So far, the greatest single loss was suffered by a janitor, who was scammed for approximately $75,000, the investigator said.
“This is the most cowardly kind of crime you can commit,” he said. “And this is only one cell. We are going to be seeing a lot more of this.”
Although the investigation was launched in San Diego County, the case is to be prosecuted in Orange County, since some of those arrested were already under investigation for similar crimes there, Revell said.
Four of the six were arrested Thursday morning, deputies said. Of the three men and three women accused of running the scam, two are already being held in state prison.Molly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.
Do not puff, shade, skew, tailor, firm up, stretch, massage,
or otherwise distort statements of fact.FBI Special Agent Coleen Rowley
03-30-07, 01:20 AM #2
Damn!.... Good on those Detectives for sniffing that out. I know the CID unit of my Dept would have dropped the complaint in the trash a week after they got it for lack of leads... they work a total of 40hrs a week... that's 5 hrs per detective a week of honest to god WORK."Where's your towel Arthur?" -Ford Prefect
"You! On your knees!" -Green Jello
Some take delight in the carriages a rollin'
and some take delight in the hurley and the bowlin',
I take delight in the juice of the barley,
and courtin' pretty fair maids in the morning bright and early...
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Warning my statements do not reflect the policies, procedures or views of my agency. As a matter of fact, they think I'm just as nuts as you do, so shove it and blow it out of your fart tube.
03-30-07, 03:16 AM #3
^5 to the dicks... good work!
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03-30-07, 05:46 AM #4Banned
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They say Hartsell, 50, used his financing company, First Choice Mortgage, to invade the databases of three major credit agencies to obtain personal information on their chosen victims.
- Rep Power
Without you this guy would have had to rob a bank the old fashioned way - with a gun. Thank you for making the public safer. You useless *****
Do I seem annoyed by this modern life? Tech works, people less and less.
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