WINTER HAVEN (FOX 13) - Deputies in Polk County say they’ve busted a ring of criminals that not only swiped cell phones from stores around the state, but also stole the identities of dozens of victims in the process.
According to the sheriff’s office, the four stole or attempted to steal over $125,000 worth of phones and gift cards from Walmart and Sam’s Club going back to April of last year.
Sheriff Grady Judd explained Thursday how the alleged scheme worked: The suspects created official-looking ID's using the personal information from 63 identity theft victims, used the fake IDs to sign up for phone service, then cancelled the contracts and resold the phones.
Judd cited 169 thefts that occurred in 22 Florida counties. But detectives say the suspects also hit stores in North Carolina, Virginia, and Mississippi.
Two of the suspects – 36-year-old Edouard Fleurant and 28-year-old Carlos Milan, both of Kissimmee – were arrested Wednesday. Detectives are still looking for the other two suspects, identified as 43-year-old Marvin Fleurant of Orlando – the alleged ringleader – and 28-year-old Karla Jazmin Hernandez Romero of Kissimmee.
“These identity theft victims will have lingering negative effects on their credit scores and it will take months to clear up their accounts,” Sheriff Judd offered. “Each of these suspects needs to spend time in prison – they have earned their trip."