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Man at center of identity theft investigation flees country

A man who is allegedly a key player in a national identity theft scheme has left the United States. The man and several others were at the center of an investigation looking into a conspiracy to steal identities.

If he is found, the man will face federal charges that include bank fraud, identity theft, and money-laundering. According to the article, he is the last suspect in this investigation; all others who were allegedly involved have already been in court or are currently in custody. So far 12 individuals have been charged in the identity theft conspiracy.

Though it's not entirely clear when the investigation first began, there were some pivotal turning points:

  • January 2010 - another suspect was seen with the man after making purchases with a stolen credit card; police arrested the suspect but did not arrest the man who used the stolen credit card later that day
  • March 2010 - investigators found fake IDs, computers, and credit cards at a home; as a result, a task force began working with informants
  • December 2010 - the task force found a storage locker full of fake Social Security cards and other materials used in identity theft

The man and others in the identity theft scheme allegedly told others how to use fake IDs and stolen credit cards without getting caught. An informant was told by one of the suspects that it was important not to attract attention and be too careless with the credit card.

Any charges of federal crimes are serious and can result in severe penalties. Though it is unclear what sorts of penalties the man may be facing, the penalties could include a very lengthy prison sentence. However, prosecuting the man will likely be a difficult task until he is brought back to the U.S.

Source: Pioneer Press online, "Key ID theft suspect at large," John Welbes, 23 March 2011

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