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16 indicted in alleged Pennsylvania identity theft conspiracy

Over the last few years, federal law enforcement authorities have been focused on financial crimes, including identity theft and credit card fraud. These crimes often involve more than one defendant, and defendants often face additional charges of conspiracy.

Last week, federal prosecutors in Pennsylvania indicted 16 individuals who they believe to be a part of an identity theft conspiracy. Two of those charged were bank tellers and a third individual worked for an insurance company.

Prosecutors allege that the defendants used stolen identity information to gain access to credit card and bank accounts of victims. The defendants are accused of using this information to obtain cash advances, make purchases at high-end retail stores, cash checks and gamble at casinos from April 2007 to August 2010. The defendants face federal charges of conspiracy, credit card fraud, identity theft, aggravated identity theft, and bank fraud.

The indictment alleges that a 44-year-old Pennsylvania man used stolen identity information to pose as account holders and change the addresses and telephone numbers associated with the accounts. Allegedly, he added the names of other people to the accounts and requested new credit cards and checks be sent to these people. The indictment alleges that these co-defendants used the stolen accounts to write checks, obtain cash advances and make purchases.

The indictment also accuses a former employee of an insurance company, and two former bank tellers, with providing the identity and financial information of their companies' customers to other co-defendants, who allegedly used the information to commit credit card and bank fraud.

These defendants are all now facing federal felony charges. If a defendant is found guilty, federal felonies carry lengthy prison sentences that are computed according to the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

Source: Philadelphia Business Journal, "Alleged identity theft ring busted in Philadelphia," Jeff Blumenthal, 4/25/2011

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