Police in Louisiana have taken six people into custody and are searching for two others in connection with an identity theft ring. The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office says that the group rummaged through garbage cans outside a Hammond loan business to find documents containing sensitive information. The scheme is said to have been in operation for about a year and 45 victims have been identified so far according to media accounts.
Deputies began their investigation in May after receiving reports of fraudulent credit card transactions, and they soon traced these transactions to a 41-year-old man and his 37-year-old wife. Further investigations are said to have revealed that the couple worked with several others to gather credit card numbers and other financial information. Charges filed against the group include identity theft, access device fraud and conspiracy to commit access device fraud.
The fraudulent charges that initially prompted the investigation led deputies to a Hammond convenience store. A 28-year-old man who worked at the store allegedly confessed to police that he had manually entered credit card numbers given to him by the group to make purchases. Initial reports do not indicate whether or not the loan company involved will face any kind of sanctions for discarding documents that could contain sensitive data without first shredding them.
When presented with facts like these in cases involving state or federal white collar crimes, experienced criminal defense attorneys may encourage their clients to consider cooperating with the authorities in return for more lenient treatment. Groups of criminal suspects who face face years of incarceration rarely remain loyal and silent for long, and the most favorable plea offers are generally reserved for those who step forward first.
Source: KLFY, "Sheriff: Identity theft ring rummaged through trash outside of loan business to steal IDs", Aug. 1, 2018