Michigan Attorney General Granholm Files Charges in Three Identity Theft Cases

Apr 11, 2001, 01:00 ET from Office of the Michigan Attorney General

    LANSING, Mich., April 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Attorney General Jennifer M.
 Granholm today announced that her High Tech Crime Unit has filed felony
 criminal charges against three Michigan individuals accused of stealing the
 identities of other people in order to illegally establish credit card
 accounts and purchase merchandise.  In two of the cases, the defendants are
 accused of using their home computers to illegally apply for credit or to make
 their purchases.  In the third, the defendant is accused of obtaining personal
 identity information from medical and other records he observed shoppers drop
 at a Detroit shopping center.
     Granholm said:  "Unfortunately, our Internet age is quickly giving rise to
 the identity theft age.  Because it's so much easier to shop, bank, or access
 your medical records on-line, it's also much easier for a crook to steal that
 information.  With fewer and fewer face-to-face interactions with a bank
 teller or a store clerk, it's also becoming easier for those crooks to use
 that information without your knowledge.  Would-be identity thieves should
 know, however, that this is not the 'perfect crime'; law enforcement is
     Granholm added:  "This is one of those crimes where the best defense is a
 good offense.  Treat your personal information like you would your personal
 diary -- store it securely, don't share it with a stranger unless you have to,
 and if you do share it, be sure you know what it's being used for."
     In the first case, John Hammond, age 36 of St. Joseph, is charged with one
 count each of knowingly stealing a credit card without the owner's consent, of
 illegally using the card without the owner's consent, and of using a computer
 to commit a crime.  Hammond's charges were filed in 5th District Court in
 St. Joseph.
     According to the complaint, on January 29, 2001, St. Joseph Township
 police received a complaint alleging that a citizen's credit card had been
 used, without consent, to make two on-line purchases of golf equipment for
 $1,647.  Working with the local police, investigators from the Attorney
 General's High Tech Crime Unit were able to track the purchases back to an
 Internet account and phone number registered to Michelle Hammond of
 St. Joseph.  John Hammond later admitted to police and investigators that he
 had taken the credit card while working at the citizen's home and had later
 used it to make the on-line golf purchases.
     In the second case, Tezanne Edwina Barber, age 34 of Romulus, is charged
 with five counts of applying for credit in another's name and one count of
 using a computer to commit fraud.  Barber's charges were filed in 34th
 District Court in Romulus.
     The complaint alleges that, between November 1999 and May 2000, Barber
 used the name and social security numbers of nine individuals with whom she
 had previously worked at MediaOne and Control Data Processing, a temporary
 employment agency.  Barber allegedly then used the names and social security
 numbers to apply for fraudulent credit accounts with various banks and
 retailers.  In each instance, Barber used her home computer to apply for the
 credit; she eventually used the credit accounts to make purchases totaling
 more than $1,900.
     In the final case, Darryl Carswell, age 35 of Detroit, is charged with two
 counts of applying for credit in another's name, two counts of using another's
 credit card without their consent, and one count of being a habitual felony
 offender.  Carswell had previously been convicted of carrying a concealed
 weapon without a license, a felony.  Carswell's charges were filed in 36th
 District Court in Detroit.
     Carswell is accused of applying for and receiving credit cards in the
 names of people other than himself.  On November 3, 2000, Carswell accepted
 delivery of an American Express card in the name of one of the victims.
 According to U.S. Postal Inspectors, Carswell identified himself as the victim
 upon receipt of the card.  After receiving the card, Carswell admitted to
 using his cell phone to apply for American Express, Visa, and JC Penney credit
 cards in the names of others.  Carswell allegedly used the credit cards to buy
 ping-pong tables and other gaming tables for his Detroit residence.  Carswell
 admitted to Attorney General investigators that he obtained the personal
 information necessary to apply for the credit cards when he picked up medical
 and other personal records dropped by shoppers at a Detroit-area shopping
     Granholm added:  "I'd like to thank the United States Postal Inspection
 Service, the Detroit Police Department, the St. Joseph Township Police
 Department, the Romulus Police Department, and the Michigan State Police
 Computer Crimes Unit for their expertise and assistance in all of these cases.
 These kinds of partnerships symbolize the way crime will be prevented and
 fought in the future."
     The penalties for the charges in these cases are as follows:
     * stealing a financial device - 4 years in prison and/or a $2,000 fine;
     * illegal use of a financial device - 4 years in prison and/or a $2,000
     * unauthorized credit application - 4 years in prison and/or a $2,500
     * using a computer to commit a crime - 7 years in prison and/or a $5,000
     * habitual felony offender - 1 1/2 times the maximum sentence on the
       primary offense.
     A criminal charge is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed
 innocent until and unless proven guilty.
     All Attorney General news releases may be found at www.ag.state.mi.us

SOURCE Office of the Michigan Attorney General