May. 11, 2006 12:00 AM
25 are arrested in bust targeting identity fraud advertisement OAS_AD('ArticleFlex_1')
PHOENIX - More than 25 people were arrested Wednesday in connection with a dollar-store identity-theft ring.
"Operation Dollar Store," a three-month investigation by the Governor's Fraudulent ID Task Force, targeted 14 dollar stores across the Valley suspected of selling cellphones activated with false identities to people who claimed they had no legal identification. Suspects face felony charges of trafficking stolen identity, illegal enterprise, fraudulent schemes and forgery.
Authorities believe some of the phones, which could not be traced, were used to facilitate organized-crime operations. Similar phones are widely used by drug dealers, human traffickers and fake ID manufacturers, said Leesa Berens Morrison, director of the state Department of Liquor Licenses and Control. Agents seized more than 14,500 cellphones, $600,000 in cash, 14 vehicles, computers and documents at homes and dollar stores in Phoenix, Scottsdale and the West Valley.