Five men were arrested in Houston for allegedly using stolen identities to buy luxury cars and take out lines of credit to purchase breast implants, local station KPRC 2 reports. The cars have been returned to the defrauded dealerships, but the status of the implants — which two men got for themselves — is unclear.
It all seems to have started when some of the men toured an apartment complex and noticed several boxes of old leasing records stored on the property. Police say they returned later, broke into the storage unit and took the records, which they used to buy cars and take out lines of credit. In just about a month, they had used seven identities at eight dealerships to buy 12 cars, including Porsches, Audis, Land Rovers, BMWs and a Chevy Camaro, adding up to a total of $485,136 in fraudulently purchased vehicles.
Joel Cruz, Darion Wells, Devante Ruffin and Jamonte Booker were arrested on charges of fraud and identity theft. Booker and Ruffin are accused of opening the lines of credit for breast implants — and Obinna Uzozie, a salesman at one of the dealerships, was arrested for allegedly assisting in the scheme.
When police arrested the suspects, they found the boxes of leasing records. Even though it seems fewer than a dozen identities were used, the men had hundreds, possibly thousands, of identities in their possession. It’s one of those situations that makes you wonder about all the places your personal information could be, like on old job applications or rental agreements, and how well they’re being protected.
The truth is, you have no way of knowing what has happened to all those forms you’ve filled out over the years, so the best thing you can do is monitor your credit and financial accounts for signs of identity theft, like a change in credit score. Any fraudulent accounts will show up on your credit report, so regularly reviewing it can help you spot and end fraud. You can get your credit reports for free once a year under federal law, and you can get two of your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com.
More on Identity Theft:
- How Can You Tell If Your Identity Has Been Stolen?
- What Should I Do If I’m a Victim of Identity Theft?
- How Credit Impacts Your Day-to-Day Life