Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Michigan ID Theft Suspects Linked to Russian Crime Ring

Via -

It started as a traffic stop, a Kent County sheriff's deputy pulling over a car with a burned-out headlight, and occupants -- reeking of burned marijuana -- providing fake names and addresses.

On the back seat was a stash of Meijer bags.

Police were suspicious and asked the car owner for consent to search.

Inside the car? Multiple credit and debit cards, along with nearly $13,000 in stored-value Meijer cards, more commonly known as gift cards.

The extent of the criminal enterprise wasn't known at the time of the Oct. 2 traffic stop. But after sheriff's detectives and federal authorities got involved, investigators soon determined the three suspects in the car were allegedly linked to an Internet crime ring in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Investigators say the suspects used the information to put thousands of dollars onto fraudulent credit cards and store cards -- and obtain $200,000 in fraudulent student loans.

The cases fuel concern that technology, particularly the Internet, gives criminals an avenue to steal and share information from virtually anywhere. Law enforcement officials at the local, state and federal level in West Michigan are working toward an eventual task force on identity theft.

"There is no single silver bullet to solve it," said Hagen Frank, an assistant in the Grand Rapids U.S. Attorney's office. "It is a priority of the Justice Department to get a handle on identify theft. It really is a growing problem on a national level. Everyone is at risk for it."


Meijer is a regional American hypermarket chain based in Walker, Michigan.

No comments:

Post a Comment