Three Indicted in Identity Theft Scheme
Stole Mail from at Least 31 Victims and Created False Identification Documents
Baltimore, Maryland - A grand jury has indicted Joseph Lawrence, age 43, Maurice Racks, age 53 and Tara Wagner, age 37, all of Baltimore, on charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scheme to steal the mail of victims and then use social security numbers, names and other identity information of those victims and others to fraudulently cash checks and obtain money, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. Lawrence and Wagner are also charged with possession of stolen mail and illegal document making equipment, and Racks is charged with social security fraud. The indictment was returned on April 30, 2008 and unsealed yesterday upon the arrest of all the defendants.
According to the six count indictment, from at least April through October 2007, the defendants stole mail from, and assumed the identities of, at least 31 individuals, some of whom lived on Dudley Avenue in Baltimore and on Foxcreek Court in Owings Mills, Maryland. The indictment alleges that the defendants created false identification documents in the names of the victims using their own personal information, as well as using the personal information of the victims. The defendants then used the false identification documents to cash checks, including personal, payroll, child support, rebate, unemployment, Maryland and U.S. Treasury tax refund checks in the names of others.
In addition, the indictment alleges that on September 28, 2007, Lawrence and Wagner possessed 48 stolen Netflix DVDs; a polaroid camera used to produce false identification documents; and two typewriters, the ribbons of which contained identifying information and social security numbers of individual victims. On October 11, 2007, Racks possessed a template for a Maryland identification document, cutouts of numerous state and federal agency images and emblems, two fraudulently produced identity documents and a newspaper article on how the web has revolutionized identity fakery.
The defendants face a maximum sentence of five years in prison for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and a mandatory sentence of two years in prison, to be served consecutive to any other sentence imposed, for aggravated identity theft. Lawrence and Wagner also face five years in prison for possession of stolen mail and 15 years in prison for possession of illegal document making equipment. Racks also faces five years in prison for social security fraud. The defendants had their initial appearances in federal district court and were detained pending detention hearings scheduled for May 8, 2008.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General and the Baltimore County Police Economic Crimes Unit for their investigative work. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorney Solette Magnelli, who is prosecuting the case.