Identity theft ring busted - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Identity theft ring busted

Kwezeta Butler Kwezeta Butler
GBI Special Agent Danny Jackson GBI Special Agent Danny Jackson
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January 6, 2004

Albany-- South Georgia homes are raided by hundreds of law enforcement officers.

The nationwide identity theft scheme was centered in Albany.The ring was using the obituary pages to steal the identities of dead people. Before dawn officers from 19 law enforcement agencies began to round up suspects.

Twenty teams of agents and police officers that spread across South Georgia before dawn. They had arrest warrants for 80 people linked to an identity theft scam.

As soon as a home was raided, it was on to the next location for more suspects. This identity theft scam was uncovered two years ago, when a Crisp County investigator found that his deceased uncle was listed as a co-signer for a car loan.

GBI Special Agent Danny Jackson said "Once we began interviews and digging into all the workings of a dealership, we discovered what led to today. Arrest warrants being issued for 80 defendants."

The identity theft ring was traced to the sale of hundreds of cars at a metro Atlanta car dealership. So far, about 50 suspects were arrested in the raids across 11 Georgia counties, most in South Georgia. They were questioned at a former Albany school, providing more information into the scam that stretched as far as California.

Jackson said "These arrests will glean much more information that will be used later on to hand down more indictments and arrests of other individuals who are involved in this scheme."

All the people arrested today were charged with forgery, and could face a ten year prison sentence if convicted. The suspected leader of this identity theft ring was arrested this morning at Darton College.

29-year-old Kwezeta Butler made her first appearance in court Tuesday afternoon at the Dougherty County Jail. Investigators say she sold the names and personal information of the deceased people and then set up the car sales.

Butler has been the subject of an identity theft investigation for the last two years. She's being held on five thousand dollars bond.

Most of the others arrested in the raids this morning also made their first appearance in court.

posted at 4:35PM by dave.miller@walb.com