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
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
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