Ten Charged In D.C. Area Identity Theft Ring
Ten individuals were charged in Alexandria for their alleged involvement in a large-scale identity theft ring operating in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area since at least January 2012.
According to the 16-count indictment and a related criminal complaint, Janero Blalock and Christopher Bush allegedly recruited women to steal personal information, such as social security numbers, addresses, and dates of birth, from their employers, which included a local dental practice, insurer, and rental car company. To date, over 600 potential victims have been identified, including many overseas employees of the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Members of the ring are alleged to have used the stolen identity information to manufacture fraudulent identification documents bearing their photographs and victims’ personal information, and would then use those fraudulent identification documents and victims’ social security numbers to open credit lines under victims’ names. Through this scheme, members of the ring were allegedly able to obtain merchandise from various retailers, including Macy’s, Jared the Galleria of Jewelry, and Kay Jewelers. To date, law enforcement has recovered 284 suspected fraudulent identification documents bearing victim information and ring members’ photographs.
The indictment charges the following offenses: Conspiracy to commit bank fraud, access device fraud, and identity theft, which is punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of five years; bank fraud, which is punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of thirty years; access device fraud, which is punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years; identity theft, which is punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of fifteen years; and aggravated identity theft, which is punishable by a mandatory term of imprisonment of two years in addition to any other sentence.
The investigation was conducted by the United States Secret Service and the Fairfax County Police Department, with assistance from the City of Fairfax Police Department, Prince George’s County W.A.V.E. (Washington Area Vehicle Enforcement), Prince George’s County Financial Crimes Section, the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority, Delaware State Police, Maryland State Police, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of State.
Assistant United States Attorney Lindsay A. Kelly and Special Assistant United States Attorney Peter V. Roman are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.
The seven individuals arrested were:
Janero Blalock, 31, of Fort Washington, Maryland;
Christopher Bush, 39, of District Heights, Maryland;
Adrienne Pritchett, 42, of District Heights, Maryland;
Segale Battle, 30, of Washington, D.C.;
Jamille Ferguson, 31, of New York, New York, and Virginia;
Tekia Thomas, 20, of Alexandria, Virginia; and
Elizabeth Monika Hunter, 19, of Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Two additional defendants were already in state custody when federal charges were filed: Jennifer Scruggs, 44, of Hyattsville, Maryland; and Rungnatee Pearson, 45. An arrest warrant was issued for the remaining defendant, Kevin Middleton, 32, of Charleston, South Carolina.
Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.
SOURCE: U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Virginia