Six-month investigation leads to arrests of 12 ID theft suspects

ID theft suspects (Photos released by Tri-County Fraud Task Force)

A dozen people are behind bars after a massive identity theft sting operation.

A task force involving three counties and the U.S. Post Office helped take down a network of alleged criminals. Investigators are calling them the “Dirty Dozen.”

According to investigators, this has been a long case, which started back in spring of 2018 when they were investigating reports of stolen mail and checks.

The 12 suspects allegedly used stolen information to get fraudulent drivers licenses to use forged checks at several businesses in our area.

Investigators believe the group is responsible for more than $500,000 worth of fraud against businesses and individuals.

“They will go into Walmart, they will go into local Hobby Lobby, they will go into places like that and that, then the store is out that product and the money, so all that adds up to $500,000,” said Detective Robert Wagner, Selama Police Dept.

The majority of the victims are elderly people.

The “Dirty Dozen” are allegedly responsible for $40,000 worth of damage to U.S. Postal Service property.

"People think that because the bank reimburses these victims, that they are made whole. That’s not the case. There’s a lot of underlying stresses, there are businesses that do not get reimbursed, and there are retail stores that are out property and are out money as well," Wagner said.

Some of the 12 suspects were also charged with other crimes including auto theft and possession of narcotics.

The suspects were identified as:

  • Brandon Stanush
  • Donelle Mitchell
  • Austin Orozco
  • Carolyn Samano
  • Fallon Poth
  • Jordan Keeton
  • Eleaza Mead
  • Nichole Cortez
  • Bret Stuckey
  • Efrain Charles
  • Patrick Samaniego

Each suspect has been charged with engaging in organized criminal activity.

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