"Everyone's identities are kind of like the yeast the criminals need to bake up their financial frauds,"
Moua told investigators when he was arrested that he was wearing shoes he'd fraudulently ordered online, billed to someone in
The complaint gives the following account:
Police saw several pieces of suspected stolen mail in the vehicle. It was from various cities, including
Police also recovered several stolen credit cards from Vang and in the squad car where Moua had been sitting.
After the men were arrested, Vang spoke with a U.S. postal service inspector and a
"Vang stated he started stealing mail in late
Vang said he used a few stolen credit cards at gas stations. He denied buying anything significant. He also said he'd attempted to cash two stolen checks in
Officers sorted through the property that
A tax document belonging to someone from
One piece of paper had handwritten notes with names, addresses and
Moua told officers only he and Vang were involved in the thefts and "estimated he did approximately
Moua told officers they tried to use the credit cards, but couldn't because they didn't know last four digits of the owners'
When officers showed Moua a surveillance image from an ATM where a credit card belonging to a mail-theft victim was used, "Moua admitted the picture appeared to be him," the complaint said.
Officers had found a 2013 W-2 in the name of the same person whom Moua had billed for shoes, and Moua said he'd tried to file an online tax return on that person's behalf. But he "said he was unsuccessful in completing the refund, because he was not willing (to pay) the upfront fee to have it processed," the complaint said.
Moua also said he'd had a credit report run on someone and had tried to wire money from the person's account to a
Vang told police that bags of stolen mail were at his girlfriend's residence, though she didn't know it. Investigators found two garbage bags of stolen mail in a storage closet.
The mail is being sorted so it can be returned to the rightful owners. The county attorney's office said the
Moua has a previous felony conviction for violation of controlled-substance law. Vang has no criminal convictions, the complaint said.
The identity theft charge filed against each is a felony with a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, Choi said. He created a financial fraud prosecution unit in summer 2011 to address such cases. One prosecutor works full time in the unit, and another will be added this year.
"This case illustrates my growing concern about how common identity theft is in our community," Choi said in a statement. "Once identities are in their possession, criminals devise numerous schemes to commit fraud or other criminal acts. They can get the information they need to assume your identity from a variety of sources: stealing your mail, rifling through your trash or phishing for bank information through spam emails. I want to commend law enforcement as well as the public for helping to bring this crime spree to an end."
In 2011, the
Tips to avoid identify theft are available at http://bit.ly/IDtheftInfo
Information about what to do if your identity is stolen is at http://bit.ly/IDstolen.
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