Authorities say they’ve begun to roll up a ring of identity thieves that has hit about 800 mailboxes in Jackson County to steal checks and documents that could be used to generate cash.
Two people have been arrested, two are being sought and the number of suspects may total 15 to 20, police told the Medford Mail Tribune.
Some victims have lost thousands of dollars, said Sgt. Brent Mak.
“It’s astounding the amount of havoc this group has wreaked in so many peoples’ lives,” he said. “This case keeps growing and growing.”
Beginning in September, the thieves stole mail, forged checks and got illegal debit and credit cards, police said. Besides mailboxes, they broke into cars to get victims’ information, police said.
Mak said the thieves used simple forgery in some cases and more sophisticated means in others. One used a smartphone app to take pictures of stolen checks to upload the money to prepaid debit cards. The thieves would use correction fluid to conceal the amounts on a check and write in new amounts, Mak said.
“We had some people who had a stolen check clear four or five times for different amounts,” he said.
He described the thieves as ” basically transients who couch-surfed and flopped in hotels.”
The Mail Tribune said federal charges of identity theft, fraud and conspiracy have been filed against two men, Eduardo Navarro and Dallas Lee Tedford. The federal arrest warrant names Kayla Ann Strange and Robert Powelson.
Additional suspects will likely be charged under state statutes, Mak said.
“The feds are looking at charging the ringleaders, so to speak,” he said. “But the rest will certainly face several felony charges.”
Information from: Mail Tribune, http://www.mailtribune.com/