CNN reports that Shona Michelle Young was arrested in Miami on Monday. Young and 22 others face fraud charges on allegations that they operated an identity theft ring which defrauded others of more than $2.1 million. Young was allegedly carrying a fake New York state driver’s license and Visa debit card, both in the name of Deborah L. Taverna, at the time of her arrest, and was found with wigs which she wore when cashing fraudulent checks,
The defendants are alleged to have obtained victim information through corrupt employees working at professional offices, stealing mail and picking pockets. The alleged conspirators allegedly used stolen check and credit and debit card information and identification to withdraw monies from victims’ bank accounts.
The alleged operation’s most prominent victim? Federal Reserve Chief Ben Bernanke. Mr. Bernanke, through a spokesman, has acknowledged that the alleged identity theft ring has targeted a member of his family. Mr. Bernanke’s wife’s purse was stolen from a Washington, D.C., coffee shop last Summer, and contained a checkbook and credit cards.
Authorities became aware of the alleged ring in September 2007 after a FedEx office in Chicago refused to send a package by one of the alleged conspirators because they listed the shipping office as a return address. The suspect abruptly left the FedEx office, leaving the package behind, which was discovered to contain stolen personal checks, credit cards and debit cards and forged driver’s licenses and military IDs. Federal agents later discovered that similar packages were being sent to alleged co-conspirators in cities including Washington; New York; Chicago, Illinois; and Miami, Florida.
The defendants face charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. The alleged leader of the ring, Clyde “Big Head” Gray, pled guilty in July and faces up to 30 years in prison. Two other defendants have entered guilty pleas, and three remain at large.