A savvy identity thief who stole the identity of a local reporter to purchase a Mercedes was released from jail last week, the Atlanta Journal-Consitution reports.
Erkes Antwon Green, 28, (pictured left) was released from DeKalb jail on $105,000 bond on March 3, despite evidence that he stole the identities of 142 people to file bogus tax returns and purchase at least 3 luxury cars.
Police believe Green was working with a network of identity thieves who bilked the federal government out of millions of dollars in fraudulent refund checks.
“He can be anybody he wants to be,” Detective Ken Stapler with the Atlanta Police Department’s major fraud unit told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He’s got (at least) 142 [identities] that I counted.”
Stapler told the AJC he arrested Green on Feb. 28 after he opened a "SunTrust bank account online using a stolen ID, deposited a stolen check for $46,000 and later trying to make ATM withdrawals."
“He was able to get about $14,000 from the ATM before the bank realized that the check was no good,” Stapler told the AJC.
Police tracked Stapler to his high end apartment, where they found a file cabinet filled with stolen identities and other evidence.
And that wasn't all: “While we’re in the apartment, we discover that he’s furnished the whole apartment using stolen identities,” Stapler said. “The vehicle he was driving when we located him is a 2010 Mercedes E-550 that he bought with a stolen identity. And that victim lives here in Atlanta.”
Among the victims whose identity was stolen was Mark Arum, a reporter for WSB TV in Atlanta (pictured above right). Green allegedly used Arum's identity to purchase a $73,000 Mercedes-Benz in Fort Lauderdale.
“In Sept. 2011, I got a call from the Georgia Department of Revenue saying they were suspending my registration because I had stopped paying for insurance on my Mercedes,” Arum told the AJC. “I said, ‘wait a minute. That’s not my car.’”
Green also allegedly filed a tax return in Arum's name, using false information to obtain a $9,000 tax refund.
Stapler said Green and his ring of thieves stole identities by using a piece of computer technology called a "keystroke grabber".
“You plug this thing into the back of a computer where the USB cable would go,” Stapler told the AJC. “He can leave it there for as long as he wants, and nobody’s going know unless they look on the back of their computer.”
Green, who was a former waiter in Florida, may have stolen identities through his job handling credit card transactions. He has been arrested multiple times in communities all along the coast of Florida.
Stapler believes Green and his ring of thieves gained access to individual's personal credit files and bank information by working at temp agencies.
“A lot of times, what these people do is get hired on with a temp agency. A temp agency may work in an office building cleaning up after hours.
“Once (one of the would-be ID thieves) gets in the door, he’s got access to those computers. Anytime nobody is looking, he could put the keystroke grabber on.”
Stapler is disappointed that Green was released back into the wild. “It appears we’re going to have to find him all over again when I get ready to arrest him for the Fulton County cases,” Stapler said.
“Oh, he’s gone,” said WSB's Mark Arum.
“I don’t feel violated … just annoyed," Arum told the AJC. "To this day, I still get calls from debt collectors wanting payment for that car, even though that all been resolved through the credit agencies.”
Arum had valuable advice for potential victims:
“This was preventable if I had frozen my credit beforehand,” he said of the inexpensive procedure that prevents credit inquiries until a password is provided. “Everyone should freeze their credit to make sure this doesn’t happen to them.” Source
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