Peabody Man Pleads Guilty to Heading Identity Theft Ring
|U.S. Attorney’s Office May 22, 2013|
BOSTON—A Peabody man was convicted today of heading an interstate identity theft ring that used the identities of a Florida-based company’s employees to cause almost $370,000 in credit losses at large retail stores throughout New England.
William Dodge, 46, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joseph L. Tauro to access device fraud (that is, credit card fraud), conspiracy to commit access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Sentencing is scheduled for August 14, 2013.
When Dodge was in Florida, he met the benefits administrator for a Florida-based company and obtained from her lists of employees’ identity information, such as their names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers. Upon traveling to Boston, Dodge and a group of at least five conspirators used the lists to obtain false identity cards that looked like Massachusetts drivers’ licenses and bore the co-conspirators’ pictures but the Florida company employees’ personal information.
With these false identity cards, Dodge and the co-conspirators posed as the Florida company’s employees at large chain retail stores. In a typical fraudulent transaction, a conspirator would pose as the employee, pretend that he or she had left his store credit card at home, and ask the store personnel to provide the employee’s store credit card number. If the identity victim did not have an account with the store, the conspirator would use the false identity card to apply for a new credit account in the identity victim’s name. Upon obtaining a credit card number, the conspirator would use the account to purchase gift cards and other items such as electronics that they could resell. The store would lose the money, because the co-conspirators did not intend to pay the credit bill.
The conspiracy netted at least $368,000 in merchandise, with Dodge personally responsible for about $183,000 of the losses. Because Dodge directed the group’s actions, he took about 50 percent of his co-conspirators’ fraud proceeds.
On the charge of access device fraud, Dodge faces a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release; on the charge of conspiracy to commit access device fraud, he faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release; and on the charge of aggravated identity theft, he faces a mandatory penalty of two years in prison, followed by one year of supervised release. He also faces a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross monetary gain or loss, restitution, and forfeiture.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, Richard DesLauriers; Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; and Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis made the announcement today. The U.S. Attorney’s Office thanks the Florida company for cooperating during the investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott L. Garland of Ortiz’s Cybercrime Unit.