It all started in 2005 with shoplifting arrests by the Overland Park Police at Oak Park Mall. After the theft arrests Overland Park Investigators obtained stolen property and evidence which included a Dell laptop computer. It was determined the laptop was used by the two to initiate the fraud scheme. Later in related incidents, Overland Park police recovered numerous pieces of mail and credit card numbers that did not belong to the two thieves. One of the credit card numbers was allegedly used to purchase several airline tickets. The two criminals allegedly obtained stolen credit and debit card information from hotels in Overland Park and in the Atlanta, Ga., metro area where identity theft victims stayed as guests. The investigation continued to evolve nationwide and resulted in thirty eight (38) defendants from across the United States being charged in a series of indictments that allege an extensive network of black market travel agents who used stolen identities of thousands of victims. The criminal conspiracies resulted in an estimated total loss of more than $20 million to domestic airline companies, financial institutions and other merchants and cardholders. Besides the Overland Park Police Department the other law enforcement agencies involved in this nationwide investigation were the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Kansas City Secret Service Task Force, the Shawnee, Kan. Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John E. Cowles and Matt Hiller. To read the U.S. Attorney’s news release and obtain other information on this case go http://www.justice.gov/usao/mow/indes.html