Two women in Kentucky have been arrested in connection with a year-long cybercrime operation involving stolen identities and fraudulent benefit claims.
An investigation was launched by police in West Buechel at the beginning of January when they received a call from a local branch of the bank BB&T to say that a fraudulently authorized check for nearly $40,000 had just been cashed.
Police traced the fraudulent check to 57-year-old Lori Davis and subsequently obtained a search warrant for her home.
West Buechel Detective Robert Monroe told local news source WDRB that a search of Davis’ residence led to the discovery of “lots of evidence of stolen mail, stolen identity.”
As a result of the search, a second female suspect, 70-year-old Julianna Whobrey, emerged. Upon searching Whobrey’s residence, police discovered evidence that included mail addressed to other people at locations all over the country.
Davis was charged with theft by deception and engaging in organized crime. Whobrey was charged on January 18 with trafficking in stolen identities, engaging in organized crime, misuse of computer information, intent to defraud to obtain benefits, receiving goods by fraud, and theft by deception.
Monroe said that the suspects were work colleagues who used their jobs in a Louisville mailroom to cover up their illegal activity. The pair allegedly bought stolen identities on the dark web then used them to fraudulently obtain unemployment benefits and cards pre-paid with thousands of dollars.
“These suspects both had other people’s unemployment applications from other states, specifically New York State Department of Labor,” Monroe said.
“These envelopes were addressed to different people at different addresses, and what they’re doing is collecting all the information out of this mail, and they’re actually creating people who either don’t exist, are dead, or people who do exist. And what they’re doing is they’re clogging up the dissemination of these benefits for people who actually need them.”
Police believe that the two women have been scamming victims for a year and were acting as money mules for a third suspect who resides in another country.
Monroe said: “I’m forwarding the case to the FBI with all I’ve gathered so far, and I’m going to work with them.”