Thursday, July 8, 2010

Socorro Man Arrested On Identity Theft Charges

By John Larson

SOCORRO – A local man was arrested Thursday, July 1, on charges relating to identity theft following an investigation by Socorro Police officers.
Charles Harper Lee, 37, is being held on seven counts of fraud, one count of theft, one count of larceny, one count of the disposing of stolen property, and two counts of conspiracy.
According to the criminal complaint, Lee attempted to open accounts with Wal-Mart Credit, Barclay Bank, Capitol One, First Premier, and Sears Credit; all using Social Security numbers of the individual victims.
In addition, the complaint said Lee used the identifiers of another victim to order a Verizon Blackberry cell phone, stole the driver’s license of another victim, and conspired with his brother-in-law and sister to pull off the felonies.
Lopez said the tip-off came Thursday when one of the victims reported to police that someone tried to open an account with First National Bank of Omaha using his Social Security number. Lopez called the bank and spoke with its fraud investigator and was faxed paperwork pertaining to the account request.
“A few minutes after speaking with [the bank official] two male subjects entered the Police Department … regarding similar incidences,” Lopez’s report said.
One man said his credit monitoring system showed that several accounts had been opened using his identifiers, and the other man said he found that a “Charles Lee” from Socorro had also attempted to open accounts in his name.
Lopez said in the complaint he had previous knowledge of Charles Lee and where he lived.
“While en route to his residence I located Charles Lee traveling south on California near Otero,” Lopez stated in the report.
After pulling Lee over, Lopez questioned him about the information and evidence he had against him. “Charles admitted to trying to open the accounts,” and that he had conspired with his brother-in-law, the criminal complaint said.
Lee then offered to participate in controlled narcotics buys for police with the condition he would not have to go to jail. That proposition was quickly rejected when police dispatcher Carlos Valenzuela saw Lee hide something in a hole in the cinder block wall in the police department parking lot, which turned out to be a California driver’s license be-longing to someone else; a neighbor of Lee in his apartment complex at 1101 El Camino Real.
Lee first said he found the license in a Wal-Mart bag in a dumpster, and then said he found it in a box in a shed at the apartment complex. Lopez told Lee he “could not have him lying to me if he was going to be operating as a confidential informant.”
A message was left for the license’s owner in California.
When asked if there was any other evidence of stolen identifiers at his residence, Lee said no, and agreed to let his apartment be searched.
A search of the apartment turned up a Verizon Blackberry cell phone which was found to be purchased by Lee’s sister using the identity of yet another person.
Lee was placed under arrest and incarcerated.
While completing paperwork on Lee, Lopez received a call from the owner of the driver’s license, who said he left his license in his desk in his apartment.
“Therefore Lee had to have gotten the license from that apartment,” Lopez said.
He said that personal information such as bank accounts and Social Security numbers can be stolen from mailboxes, and even during home break-ins.
Lopez encouraged the public, especially persons living in the vicinity of the apartment complex on El Camino Real, should check their credit scores and credit card companies.

1 comment:

  1. By law each of the three major credit reporting agency's are required to provide you with one free credit report per year. The site
    can be used to obtain the free report. This site is maintained by the three credt reporting agencies and is not a for profit site. You can run reports from all three companies at the same time but you will basicly be pulling the same report with a different format. It is better to go in every four months and run one from alternating companies (Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union). Or you can pay a company like Life Lock a monthly fee to monitor your credit for you. Socorro Police did a good job with this Fraud Investigation as they had the guy in custody the same day the complaints started. Good Job!!!