SALT LAKE CITY — Officials from the U.S. Attorneys Office, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office and the Unified Police Department announced Friday the results of an investigation into a substantial identity theft case.
Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder said the investigation began in the summer of 2015 as members of the Unified Police officers served a warrant for a marijuana grow operation in the Millcreek precinct. As the warrant was served, Winder said, officers discovered evidence of a "massive" identity theft ring.
Eight people, identified Friday as Danny Lechtenberg, Jesse Ryan Bell, Christopher Wayne Cummings, Jody Ray Bledsoe, Carolina Cuellar Morton, Christopher Winterton, Donald Leslie Peck and Tina Marie Schilling, have been indicted and face a total of 56 charges in connection with the theft of a database containing personal information of tens of thousands of current and former Utah residents.
According to the indictment, the defendants used stolen personal information to create false identification documents, opened credit accounts at retail merchants and used the fraudulent accounts to purchase more than $200,000 in merchandise.
"This indictment alleges that the defendants possessed the names and other identifying information of more than 143,000 individuals. Now, to give you some perspective, that's approximately one in every 20 Utahns," said Diana Hagen, First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah. "Fortunately, the evidence we have suggests that the vast majority of this information was never used."
Hagen said the people whose personal information, according to evidence gathered, was used for fraudulent means have already been identified as victims and notified.
The U.S. Attorneys Office has established a national call center to answer questions for people who are concerned that their information may have been compromised.
From the U.S. Attorneys Office website:
To determine if your personal information was included in the compromised database, please contact the Department of Justice’s Mega-Victim Case Assistance Program at 1-844-527-5299 or USAEO.MCAP@usdoj.gov