Colorado is home to the latest indicted identity theft ring. A grand jury has indicted 16 people on 168 counts including forgery, money laundering and identity theft.
The indictment reveals that police first discovered the crime ring when 26 year old Laura Fritz, a defendant who will be issued a summons to appear in court, went to the Lakewood Police Department in January of 2011 and reported knowledge of two identity theft rings.
The statewide identity theft rings with defendants ranging in age from 19 to 47, victimized over 100 Colorado businesses and residents including victim Shirley Christmon from Westminster who says she found out when her bank called her and said, ‘We’ve got some charges on your account, and we want to know did you make those?’ and her response was “No, I didn’t make any of these.'”
The following defendants have been arrested and are being held on bonds from $10,000 to $60,000 to $100,000:
Matthew Mccluskey, 47
Brittany Cox, 21
Matthew Leman, 30
Jennifer Spade, 41
Lauren Ciparro, 19
Johnnie Main, 20
Carla Cominiello, 30
Michael Dicino, 28
Teresa Kidlow, 35
Michael Relic, 42
Several defendants still remain at large including:
Robert Turner, 46
Alyse Shank, 19
William Joseph Roberts, 45
Jennifer Putman, 28
Roy B. Frank, 36
According to the indictment, the group would steal people’s personal and financial information and then put the information on fake IDs and forged checks. They would then use the fake documents at businesses and banks through out Colorado.
According to an 85 page redacted public copy of charges from the District Court of Arapahoe County, Colorado some of the crimes included:
- Cashing stolen State Farm Insurance checks at a 7-11 store
- Attempting to use forged checks to pay for purchases at Wal-Mart
- Attempting to cash forged checks at Speed Check that used stolen check numbers
- Cashing forged checks on the Wells Fargo account of Saturn
- Attempting to use forged checks from the accounts of The Coalition for the Homeless
- Holding stolen checks from Instant Check
- Attempting to use stolen checks at King Soopers to buy gift cards
- Using stolen checks to purchase merchandise at Best Buy
- Making fraudulent electronic check transactions at Burlington Coat Factory
- Using forged checks to purchase merchandise at Safeway
- Over a dozen other Colorado businesses were victimized including Target, Kohl’s, Compass Bank, Trade Homes, Valero, Michael’s, Micro Center, Staples, Off Broadway Shoes, Johnson’s Corner, Hobby Lobby and Home Depot.
“This indictment is the accumulation of many months of investigation by numerous law enforcement agencies across the state”, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Cheryl Rowles-Stokes. “Hundreds, if not thousands, of man hours were devoted to the eradication of this identity theft ring for the protection of not only the businesses and citizens of Arapahoe County, but the businesses and citizens of our state as well.”
This identity theft scam joins others from 2011 like the East Michigan State University Students charged with 8 counts but the volume of 168 counts may well make this one the identity bust of the year.
11CRO2 18th JD Grand Jury Indictment.pdf