Alabama man indicted for alleged $19M stolen identity fraud scheme
A Phenix City, Alabama, man was arrested Wednesday after being indicted by a federal grand jury in an alleged $19 million stolen identity refund fraud scheme. According to the indictment, between Nov. 2010 and Dec. 2013, William Anthony Gosha III, also known as Boo Boo, and his co-conspirators used stolen ID’s to file over 7,000 tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) seeking more than $19 million in fraudulent refunds. The indictment alleges that Gosha obtained ID’s of inmates from the Alabama Department of Corrections and that his co-conspirators obtained ID’s from multiple sources, including an Alabama state agency. Gosha and his co-conspirators also allegedly obtained several Electronic Filing Identification Numbers in the names of sham tax preparation businesses in order to file the fraudulent returns and apply for tax refund-related bank products from financial institutions.
The indictment alleges that Gosha and his co-conspirators directed the IRS to issue the refunds to prepaid debit cards, U.S. treasury checks, and financial institutions. Gosha and his co-conspirators allegedly recruited U.S. Postal Service employees to provide addresses on their mail routes to which the fraudulently obtained refund checks could be sent. According to the indictment, Gosha and his co-conspirators cashed the refund checks at several businesses in Alabama and Georgia. If convicted, Gosha faces a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for the conspiracy count, a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each count of wire and mail fraud, and a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison for each count of aggravated identity theft. He also faces a period of supervised release, restitution, forfeiture and monetary penalties. [For more: WTVM9 News]
Ohio retail theft detail leads to drop in drug-related crimes
Mentor, Ohio, police set out to thwart drug-related retail theft with a pilot program launched in 2015. Now results are showing a correlation between the Retail Theft Crime Deterrence Program and a plunge in addicts stealing to support their habit. Out of 81 arrests last year, nearly 60 were of admitted drug addicts. The overwhelming drug of choice continues to be heroin. Midway through this year, the grant-funded program has produced 38 arrests, 86 charges, 10 warrants and nearly $8,000 worth of recovered goods. Of those apprehended, only 14 were addicts. “The looks on their faces are priceless,” said Paul, a Mentor police officer who works undercover as part of the program. “They have no idea that they’ve been surveilled until we walk around to the other side of the counter and flash our badge.” While the program is accomplishing its goals, work remains to curtail the efforts of addicts and others, such as those involved in organized theft rings, law enforcers say. Programs such as Mentor’s are uncommon, because of lack of manpower or funding, experts say. The Mentor program is funded by an Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services matching grant of about $25,000. The city contributes half of that amount, used to provide overtime for officers to surveil participating stores. Funding is in place for at least two more years. The department is working to determine future funding opportunities. Mentor is the sixth-largest retail destination in Ohio with 300-plus stores and 170 eateries. More than $1.9 billion in sales are generated annually, so it’s an important part of the city’s economy, said Ante Logarusic, community relations administrator.
“The city is pleased to see the level of cooperation that continues to grow between our retail partners and Mentor police,” he said. “Mentor is a great place to eat, shop and play, and we mean to keep it that way.” More than 40 law enforcement and loss prevention representatives gathered recently to discuss their experiences and what’s ahead. Mentor police have seen increased communication between stores and the department over the years. “Before, the stores used to call us after a theft was committed,” said Mentor Patrolman Jim Collier, crime prevention specialist. “Today, (loss prevention associates) often times contact us as soon as they spot a suspect in their store.” [For more: The News-Herald]
False identity, drug charges stem from alleged shoplifting
A Unicoi County, Tennessee, woman was arrested on a drug charge and providing false information to police after officers responded to a shoplifting call at Walmart. Mariah F. Woodfin, 24, 730 Rock Creek Road, Erwin, was charged with false reporting and possession of methamphetamine. Johnson City, Tennessee, police were dispatched to Walmart on West Market Street around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday about the alleged shoplifting. They stopped a green Honda Accord they were told was a vehicle associated with the shoplifting as it was leaving the parking lot. Woodfin gave police her name and date of birth as that of another family member, according to police. After officers discovered Woodfin’s real identity, she was arrested. When officers searched Woodfin, they found methamphetamine, according to a press release on the incident. [For more: Johnson City Press]
Two charged with card fraud after bank security sees them live on ATM cameras
Quick action by a State Employees Credit Union analyst in North Carolina, who was watching live video from two ATM’s was credited for leading police to two men who were arrested on charges of having fraudulent credit cards and to a Volkswagen Passat that detectives said had 47 credit cards in it. In asking for a search warrant for the car, which had a temporary registration from Illinois, Detective T.D. Maddocks said the fraud analyst spotted two men trying to get money Tuesday with cards that had been fraudulently encoded with account information. Not long after, police arrested 36-year-old Andrei Colesnicov at 1200 Farmers Market Drive, where one of the ATM’s was. Tuesday night, detectives who were questioning 23-year-old Petru Dobrovolschi at their offices on Greens Dairy Road arrested him. Neither man had a permanent address, according to arrest records. Each was charged with financial card forgery and two counts of attempting to obtain property by false pretense.
In the search warrant, which was turned in Wednesday at the Wake County court clerk’s office, Maddocks said the analyst “was watching live video at two ATM’s, New Bern Avenue and Centennial Campus.” A fraudulent card was used first at the New Bern Avenue machine, and then one was inserted into the one on Farmers Market Drive, the search warrant explained. The Passat was at the second ATM when police arrived, Maddocks said. Along with the 47 cards, police listed two phones, a passport, $560 in cash and registration paperwork as what they found during the search. Each man was being held at the Wake County Detention Center on Thursday in lieu of $30,000 bail. Jail records spelled Colesnicov’s name as Kolenikov. Court records list him as Kolesnikov. [For more: The News & Observer]