Pair Sentenced for "Felony Lane" Scam
Stephanie Kantz and Hataria Whitehead Will Each Serve Time in Federal Prison
HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA – A pair of individuals who have admitted to traveling up and down the East Coast, breaking into cars and stealing property were sentenced yesterday in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Harrisonburg.
Stephanie Jordan Kantz, 21, and Hataria Whitehead, 39, neither of whom have permanent addresses on file, previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess five or more identification documents that were not issued for the use by the defendant, one count of conspiracy to use access devices that the defendant was not authorized to use and one count of possessing without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person in relation to another crime.
Yesterday in District Court Kantz was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison for her role in the scheme. Whitehead was sentenced to 94 months in federal prison.
“These two defendants repeatedly stole checks, credit cards, and other items of value during their weeks-long crime spree,” United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said today. “While we will continue to hold those who commit these crimes accountable, I want to remind everyone to take steps to secure valuables and protect themselves from this kind of rudimentary but damaging fraud.”
According to evidence presented at previous hearings by Special Assistant United States Attorney Drew Smith, Kantz and Whitehead were involved in a “Felony Lane” scam, a scheme in which individuals steal identification documents and checkbooks or credit cards and then use the IDs to cash checks while posing as the victim of the theft. The scheme was named for the “Felony Lane Gang” in South Florida, who are believed to have originated scheme.
Kantz and Whitehead have admitted that between October 2, 2014 and October 22, 2014, they traveled from Florida to Virginia, with stops in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. Along the way, the defendants made a variety of stops, each time they stopped they made, or attempted to make, purchases using credit cards and identification documents that had been stolen. To further the scheme, Kantz would wear wigs and make-up to alter her appearance to look more like the victims in the stolen photo IDs.
The defendants had obtained the stolen credit cards and identification documents by breaking into dozens of vehicles in multiple states. Typically, the defendants would target vehicles parked in places where people were more likely to leave their purses and other belongings in their vehicles, such as funeral homes, churches, day care centers, gyms and parks. Upon finding a target vehicle, Whitehead would break into the vehicles, sometimes using a window punch to break a window. The two routinely broke into several vehicles in the same location. The defendants targeted purses and electronics but credit cards, checkbooks and ID documents were the most coveted items.
The two were ultimately arrested while attempting to break into vehicles inside Shenandoah National Park. In all, the defendants caused at least $104,371 in financial losses to their victims.
The investigation of the case was conducted by the United States Secret Service and the National Park Service. Special Assistant United States Attorney Drew Smith prosecuted the case for the United States.