A Jefferson County Grand Jury has returned an 87-count indictment naming four women and one man in a metro-wide Identity Theft ring.
The indictment accuses the group of stealing more than $100,000 from individuals and businesses between October 2009 and August 2010.
Teresa Porter, 44, of Lakewood, is believed to be the ringleader. She has been charged with racketeering, Violation of Colorado’s Organized Crime Control Act, in addition to other counts including Identity Theft, Aggravated Motor Vehicle Theft, and Forgery.
The four other participants are Michael West, 46, Lakewood; Robin Newberry, 45, Lakewood; Wendy Montano, 45, Aurora; and Pamela Rowe, 48, Westminster. They have each been charged according to their degree of participation.
The indictment alleges that the group, acting as an organized enterprise, stole personal and financial information from individuals and businesses, then used the information to defraud victims’ credit and bank accounts. They created fraudulent checks using the stolen information and then used them to purchase merchandise throughout the metro Denver area.
According to the indictment, the members would use the stolen names, dates of birth, drivers’ license numbers and Social Security numbers of victims to open accounts online, or in person, and deposit forged checks into the accounts. They would then empty the account and move on.
The active ID Theft ring would also use the stolen identities and Social Security numbers of the victims to open credit card accounts and credit accounts at businesses, rent cars, to open accounts at financial institutions or online to access cash and purchase merchandise.
Members of the enterprise would sell or pawn the stolen or fraudulently obtained merchandise to finance their operation as well as their daily living expenses and their methamphetamine use.
“This ID Theft ring is a little different from others we’ve seen,” said DA Storey, “in addition to merchandise that was purchased using stolen personal and financial identifying information, the participants of this ring opened credit accounts in jewelry stores then purchased thousands of dollars of high end pieces and turned around and pawned them for the money.”
Investigation Began in Arvada
The investigation into this ID Theft ring began when Arvada Police took a complaint from the Red Lion Hotel when their credit card was used without authorization in the amount of $5,141. The investigation continued until August 2010 when these five were indicted.
Nineteen individuals and 36 businesses were named as victims in the indictment. Many of the victims live in Washington. Victim businesses included banks, credit unions, King Soopers, Safeway, convenience stores, Zales, Helzberg, Jared’s, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. One of the identities they stole belonged to a woman who was deceased.
Teresa Porter and Robin Newberry have been arrested. Warrants have been issued for the arrest of the other three suspects.