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Police take down five involved in ID theft ring
Over the last month Bellevue police arrested five members of an identity theft ring that plagued Bellevue and the rest of the Eastside.
The arrests stemmed from an auto theft and drug investigation that began in fall 2011, uncovered evidence of the Bellevue-based, organized identity theft ring. The female ringleader received mail and personal financial documents obtained by her crew that was actively engaged in car prowls, mail thefts, and residential burglaries in Bellevue and the greater Eastside, according to Bellevue police.
The ringleader used computers, digital cameras and imaging software, air brushes and laminating supplies to produce legitimate looking Washington driver’s licenses. The suspects would then use the forged IDs and the victims’ real credit cards and washed checks to make to make purchases and cash checks. The proceeds would then be split with the ring leader and her associates. The associates would also receive meth from the ringleader, police said.
The case began to build steam on March 30 when the ringleader and one of her associates were involved in an alleged identity theft and assault at an AT&T store in Kirkland. They were chased by law enforcement officials, but they managed to escape, police said. The King County Prosecutor’s Office assigned two deputy prosecutors to the case, and on April 25 the ringleader and three of her cohorts were arrested by Bellevue police following a traffic stop in Lake Forest Park. She was subsequently charged with 16 felony counts including identity theft, assault, forgery, financial fraud, and possession of methamphetamine.
Armed with additional search warrants, police searched two Bellevue residences and a Renton hotel where they discovered the identity theft factory as well as the charred remains of stolen mail and financial documents in a fireplace. The ringleader’s car was searched and dozens of stolen personal and business checks were found along with counterfeit IDs and methamphetamine.
On May 1, a fifth suspect was arrested in Bellevue and booked into King County Jail on three counts of identity theft and one count of possession of stolen property.