Six charged in Tampa Bay area identity theft cases
Stock image via Adobe.

Identity theft
The suspects made off with more than $650,000.

Six suspects have been arrested in connection with stealing personal information from more than 100 victims including dozens of senior citizens, Attorney General Ashley Moody announced Tuesday.

The arrests were part of a multi-agency investigation between Moody’s office, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and the St. Petersburg Police. Department.

The arrested include Samishia Askew, Gregory Engram, Carnessa Rouse, Towan Rush, Donta White and Valisha Williams who each used victims’ personal information to obtain credit cards.

In all, the suspects allegedly stole. More than $650,000.

“I am outraged that anyone would target Florida seniors in this way—stealing their identities to open fraudulent credit card accounts. We will not allow criminal organizations to prey on seniors in Florida, and my Office of Statewide Prosecution will continue to partner with our great law enforcement agencies to stop fraud and ensure those that would exploit Floridians—especially our seniors—will face justice,” Moody said.

The investigation found illegal activity dating back to January 2017, which continued until the end of April 2018.

The suspects allegedly purchased the victims’ personal identification online and then used the information to apply for credit cards, which were sent to various addresses across the state.

The suspects then reportedly listed aliases as authorized users in order to make fraudulent purchases. The suspects also used fake drivers licenses to aid in the theft.

Credit cards were used to buy merchandise, pay rent and utilities, rent luxury cars and hotel rooms, buy airline tickets and obtain cash. The illegal activity occurred in Hillsborough, Pinellas and St. Lucie counties.

Engram, one of the six defendants, is currently finishing a prison sentence and California and will be extradited to Florida when that sentence is complete.

State prosecutor George Bedell will prosecute the case.

None of the cases are affiliated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


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