Seven people, including five former Verizon Wireless employees, were indicted on federal charges after allegedly using stolen identities to create phony accounts and charging tens of thousands of dollars worth of cellphones to unsuspecting victims, authorities said.
The metro Atlanta employees opened the fraudulent customer accounts at three stores in Newnan, Buckhead and Smyrna using the stolen information, the Department of Justice said Thursday in a news release.
The alleged scheme involved at least two “runners” who acquired people’s names, addresses, birthdays and social security numbers, prosecutors said. They then passed on the information to employees who allegedly created new accounts in the victims’ names and bought thousands of dollars worth of cellphones and accessories.
The alleged victims received bills for the merchandise they never purchased, but only after their fraudulent accounts defaulted, authorities said.
A federal grand jury returned an indictment last week charging the seven suspects with conspiracy, access device fraud and aggravated identity theft.
The former Verizon employees charged in the alleged scheme include 37-year-old Edward Bolden Jr., who was the general manager of the Newnan store; 31-year-old Roland Newell, a former solutions specialist at the Newnan store; 30-year-old Robert Woods, a solutions specialist at the Newnan store; 36-year-old Christian James, a solutions specialist at the Buckhead store; and 34-year-old James Miller, a solutions specialist at the Smyrna location.
“These former employees abused their positions — and numerous unsuspecting victims — by allegedly using stolen identity information to steal thousands of dollars,” U.S. Attorney Bjay Pak said in a statement.
All five employees were fired from their jobs when the investigation began, authorities said.
Two others — Marchel Robinson, 33, of Riverdale, and Eric Gamboa, 39, of Conley — are charged as “runners” in the operation. They did not work for Verizon, prosecutors said.
In other news:
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism. AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.