Four members of an identity theft ring operating in at least three states have been sentenced to prison.
On May 25, 2021 in Charlotte, NC a U.S. District Judge sentenced Dayton Kolczak, 29, and Heather Westerfield, 37, to 71 months and 57 months in prison. Two other co-defendants, Kenneth Bennett-Rosario, 45, and Jessica Sowell, 28, previously pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft.
Dayton and Heather previously pleaded guilty to bank and wire fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft charges.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, the identity theft ring operated in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and elsewhere, between October 2018 and September 2019.
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Jessica and others in the ring obtained personal identification information of people by various means, including stealing mail, over the internet, through real estate listings, and other ways.
Dayton made counterfeit North Carolina and South Carolina driver’s licenses in the victims’ names and put the photographs of the members of the ring on the licenses.
The co-conspirators used the counterfeit identification cards and stolen identities to obtain over $450,000 in fraudulent credit card accounts at retail store chains, such as Lowe’s, Belk Department Stores, Kohl’s, and Target, to purchase or rent luxury vehicles, pay for rooms at various hotel chains, and to rent storage units, among other things.
According to court documents, in this manner, the co-conspirators used the stolen identities of at least 40 individuals. Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement seized printers, laptop computers, an embossing machines, a laminator, and other devices used to manufacture the fraudulent identification cards.
Kenneth was sentenced to 39 months in prison, and Jessica was ordered to serve 24 months for their role in the scheme.