(WSVN) - Credit card theft is all too common, but what is uncommon is when an entire neighborhood is victimized. Now, Miramar Police are asking for help in solving the case. The Nightteam’s Brian Entin investigates.
Take a good look at these men. Miramar Police said they’re using credit cards taken through an intricate identity theft scheme to buy thousands of dollars in gift cards.
Tania Rues, Miramar Police Department: “They’re taking advantage of communities. They’re able to get into one way or another, and they’re hitting every house on the block.”
Police said at least 30 neighbors in the Monarch Lake community of Melrose Cove in Miramar were targeted.
Kirt Gomes and his wife, Simone, were first to notice something was up.
Kirt Gomes, ID theft victim: “We’re out of town, we received a voicemail from Capitol One indicating a request for a credit card was being placed with Capitol One.”
Eddie, who lives next door, received a similar notice.
Eddie, ID theft victim: “Everybody in the household got a letter from Capital One.”
Every member of his family was approved for a card with a $30,000 credit limit — including his aunt, who passed away years ago.
Eddie: “She’s been deceased for three years. It’s just insane and sad to feel violated in that way.”
But it wasn’t just credit cards. Neighbors found out duplicate driver’s licenses had been ordered, and the thieves even signed up for the U.S. Postal Services’ Informed Delivery Program, which allowed the crooks to track what mail was coming into their home every day.
Richard Inza, ID theft victim: “My wife spent two hours on the phone with the post office. We didn’t know what Informed Delivery was, and then they explained and they stopped it.”
Once the neighbors realized the new credit cards and driver’s licenses never arrived in the mail, they checked their surveillance videos and found a suspicious car.
Richard Inza: “Someone got out of the passenger side, went to our mailbox got back to the car and drove off slow. Looked to be like they were going up the road to hit other homes.”
Police are hoping these pictures will help crack the case. This is the car seen going door to door.
Now, take another look at the men police believe are using credit cards from families in the Monarch Lakes community.
The pictures are from Walmart, Walgreens and 7-Elevens all over Miramar, Pembroke Pines and Miami.
Tania Rues: “It’s unfortunate, though. We know that there are a lot of individuals involved. Generally in schemes like this, they have what’s called the runner, someone they’ll pay very little to steal the mail, and then you have the people who work behind the scenes.”
This isn’t only happening in Miramar.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office tells 7News they have a dozen very similar cases in a Cooper City neighborhood.
If you have any information on these crooks, call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $3,000 reward.
Identity Theft Suggested Safety Tips:
- Install locked mailboxes.
- Sign up for Informed Delivery, a free service provided by the postal office. When signed up for this service, the postal office scans and emails the homeowner each piece of mail they’re supposed to receive. Thus, with informed delivery, homeowners would be more likely to know if mail is being stolen from them and may even catch the identify theft/fraud occurring earlier in the process.
- Sign up for a credit monitoring service. This allows the individual to lock their credit. Therefore, no accounts can be requested without first unlocking the credit via the individual’s account.
Identity Theft Victims Should:
- File a report with your local police/sheriff’s department.
- Report it to the Federal Trade Commission at: https://identitytheft.gov/.
- If mail is involved, notify the post office at: https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/investigations/MailFraud/fraudschemes/mailtheft/ReportMailTheft.aspx
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