A federal grand jury has charged five individuals in an identity theft ring that allegedly used victims’ information to obtain and use new and existing in-store lines of credit at well-known retailers in an indictment returned here yesterday.
Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Frank S. Turner II, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation, Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs, Jason Hayden, Acting Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service and other members of the Southern Ohio Financial Crimes Task Force announced the indictment.
Kwame E. McCauley, 35, of Canal Winchester, Ohio; Deangelo D. Simms, 26, of Reynoldsburg, Ohio; Shirley M. Dillen, 43, of Westerville, Ohio; Julie E. Ring, 38, of Columbus, Ohio and Robert S. Tingler, 32, of Columbus, Ohio were each charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. McCauley, the alleged leader of the ring, is also charged with 20 counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. The other four co-defendants each face various charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, as well.
The 24-count indictment alleges that from January 2014 until January 2016 the group bought store merchandise after fraudulently obtaining new and using existing credit from retail stores. McCauley allegedly obtained victims’ social security numbers and dates of birth. Afterwards, he ran their credit history reports from websites like creditkarma.com.
According to the indictment, McCauley provided false identification cards containing the victims’ information but actually bearing photographs of the co-defendants who were “shoppers.” The group would travel to various clothing and electronics retail stores in the Southern District of Ohio and elsewhere, including Indiana and Pennsylvania. Examples of the stores include Best Buy, Elder Beerman, Buckle, Menard’s, Meijer and Cabela’s.
The group would allegedly review the victims’ credit history reports and personal information prior to arrival at the retail stores so the defendants could answer any qualifying questions that the stores used to screen credit applicants. The group is alleged to have opened new and used existing lines of credit on approximately 80 separate occasions causing $150,000 of loss from the retailers.
Conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud are each crimes punishable by up to 20 years in prison in this case. Aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory term of imprisonment of two years for each count.
Defendants were arrested today by Task Force agents.
U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation of this case by the IRS-CI, Columbus Police and other members of the Southern Ohio Financial Crimes Task Force, as well as Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan J.C. Grey, who is prosecuting the case.
An indictment merely contains allegations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.