The Farmington Police Department announced Friday that it conducted an investigation into what it described as “a sophisticated identity-theft ring that began in Largo, Florida, was perpetrated in Farmington, and ended in Clarksburg Maryland.”
The investigation led to the arrest of at least one person and the arrest of additional suspects connected with the ring are expected.
According to Lt. Jeff Crites, of the Farmington Police Department, the investigation began June 19 in Largo, where a victim became aware that his identify had been stolen after he received several vehicle loan denials.
After conducting a credit history report, the Florida resident discovered that his personal information had been used to fraudulently obtain a vehicle loan on May 13 in the amount of $27,606 for the purchase of a 2015 Jeep Cherokee SRT from a Farmington car dealer. The victim reported the identity theft to the Farmington Police Department on July 10, at which time an investigation was opened.
Crites further states that the Farmington police interviewed the identity theft victim, as well as employees of the dealership where the vehicle was fraudulently obtained. Records from the finance company issuing the loan were also gathered. Additionally, the subject had allowed his photograph to be taken with the vehicle at the time of sale.
With this information, Crites reports that, in coordination with the Missouri Intelligence Analysis Center (MIAC), developed several leads using facial recognition software. Crites also noted that the cooperation of the dealership, finance company, and MIAC was instrumental in developing the suspect, a resident of Clarksburg, Maryland.
According to Crites, a warrant was issued for the suspect through the St. Francois County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and Montgomery County’s Auto Theft Task Force (MCATTF) in Maryland was contacted and assisted with the investigation in their jurisdiction. Then, at 4 a.m. July 20, a search warrant was executed by the MCATTF, with the assistance of the Montgomery County SWAT team.
Crites reports that, at that time, the 2015 Jeep Cherokee was seized, along with a Dodge Challenger Hellcat, which is also believed to have been obtained with the use of stolen or fake IDs to illegally obtain financing. In addition to the two vehicles, Crites reported that multiple firearms — including a fully automatic rifle — were seized, along with driver’s licenses, credit cards, various documents, and equipment used to make fake IDs and checks.
In addition to Lt. Crites, other Farmington officers involved in the investigation were Aaron Bowles, Ryan Miller and Dustin Smith.
Kevin R. Jenkins is the managing editor of the Daily Journal/Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-783-9667 or email@example.com