[UPDATE] Two More Out-of-state ID Theft Suspects Arrested
(UPDATE, May 4, 10:00AM) Two more suspects have turned themselves in for their alleged involvement in this case. Detectives say 32-year-old Michael Gillenwater and 21-year-old Georgiana Wright have been booked into Caddo Correctional Center on identity theft and criminal conspiracy charges.
(UPDATE, April 29, 11:50AM) Two more suspects are now behind bars. Detectives say Marcus Roshun Johnson of Addison, Texas, and Otha Lee Johnson Jr., both 33, have turned themselves in at Caddo Correctional Center.
(UPDATE, April 29, 1:45PM) The first of 10 suspects wanted in a local identity theft case is now behind bars.
Caddo sheriff's detectives say 33-year-old Herman Frazier turned himself in at the Caddo-Shreveport Financial Crimes Office. He's been booked on warrants charging him with identity theft and criminal conspiracy. Nine others are being sought for their involvement in the scheme.
(ORIGINAL STORY, April 28, 2015) Caddo sheriff's detectives are searching for 10 people involved in a million-dollar identity theft scheme.
The suspects are all contractors for RMH Cable in Austin, Texas, which was hired by Comcast to find new customers in the Shreveport area. The 10 are wanted for using the personal information of at least 1,200 people, some more than once, to open fraudulent cable accounts in Caddo Parish in order to collect a commission.
Warrants have been obtained for 39-year-old Michael Jones, 41-year-old Charles Smith and 28-year-old Ronald Gardet, all of Baltimore, MD; 42-year-old Willie James Jones of Atlanta, GA; 21-year-old Georgiana Wright of New York City, NY; 32-year-old Prince J. Riley of New Orleans; 33-year-old Otha Lee Johnson, Jr., of Pasadena, MD; 33-year-old Marcus Roshun Johnson of east Texas; and 33-year-old Herman James Frazier and 32-year-old Michael Gillenwater.
Michael and Willie Jones, who detectives say organized the scheme, each face 107 counts of identity theft and one count of criminal conspiracy. The others face one count each of identity theft and criminal conspiracy.
One other suspect, 33-year-old Valerie Nicole Nichols of Pleasant View, TN, also faces 107 counts of identity theft and one of criminal conspiracy. She's a former Comcast employee who was arrested on a Caddo warrant earlier in the investigation after detectives found she provided the Joneses with the personal information of Comcast customers that was used to open the accounts. She remains at Caddo Correctional Center.
Here's more from a CSO news release:
Sheriff Steve Prator said the Caddo-Shreveport Financial Crimes Task Force began receiving complaints of identity theft in April 2013. Most of the complaints were from non-Caddo Parish residents who had received collection notices on overdue accounts they didn’t know existed. Over the months that followed, the cases were investigated and assigned to a single detective, Bobby Herring, who began working closely with Comcast in Tennessee in March 2014 to identify the suspects responsible for setting up the accounts.
It was learned that RMH contractors worked as direct sales representatives in Shreveport in 2013 and 2014. During this time, RMH supervisors Michael Jones and Willie Jones established a relationship with Nichols, who worked at a Comcast call center in Tennessee, and paid her for personal information from customer accounts. That information was used by the contractors to open 3,630 fraudulent Comcast accounts in Caddo Parish.
The financial loss in commissions, equipment, and services to Comcast, RMH Cable, and the victims was well over $1.2 million, Prator said. The contracted employees benefitted by receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent commission payments. The average commission paid was $300 per new account.
Prator said the Caddo Sheriff’s Office is working with the U.S. Marshal’s Task Force and other law enforcement agencies to help track down the wanted suspects.
Take a look at photos of the suspects: