Five suspects in ID-theft ring jailed in Broward

Five suspects in ID-theft ring jailed in Broward

A ring of five identity thieves who stole and negotiated the sale of more than 6,000 victims’ personal information is now behind bars, authorities said Wednesday.

With the help of a confidential informant, the Broward Sheriff’s Office in December began an undercover sting, dubbed Operation Shark Tank, for alleged ringleader Michael “Sharkey” Peters.

The accused are: Peters, 42, Kervin Bonhometre, 26, Devin Dorvil, 25, and Tracy Menelas, 30, all of Miami, and Troy Paul, 33, of Lauderdale Lakes. All five are being held at the Broward Main Jail.

How the ring obtained the stolen data remains under investigation, but authorities determined the group indeed collected victims’ names, dates of birth and social security numbers.

Peters would find buyers, who would pay from $14 to $20 for each victim’s personal information, according to a press release issued Wednesday by the Sheriff’s Office. Payment would not be collected by the group until the buyer successfully used the stolen information in a fraudulent transaction, the release said.

“You just have to be careful who you’re giving your information to and constantly check your credit reports,” said Detective Mitch Gordon, of the sheriff’s economic crimes unit. “And react immediately if you find something wrong.”

Keeping yourself out of the hands of identity thieves, Gordon said, entails diligence.

Gordon’s list of preventive measures includes:

Don’t provide your personal information over the telephone; don’t give out your social security number; constantly check credit reports; keep a paper shredder at your house and don’t open strange e-mails or click on links from senders you don’t know.

While Operation Shark Tank was in full swing from January through March, the ring of four men and one woman met with an undercover detective to negotiate the sale of $6,000 worth of stolen information, Gordon said.

During that span of time, Peters “handed over a list with the names of around 1,300 victims and a thumb drive with the information of 5,000 others,” the release said.

The sting was operated in tandem with the U.S. Secret Service’s Miami Electronic Crimes Task Force.

The suspects were arrested Tuesday. Each faces felony charges of aggravated white-collar crime, fraudulent use of identifications and computer crime with intent to defraud.

All totaled, the charges carry bond of $18,500 for each person. If convicted, each defendant could face a minimum of 10 years in state prison.

Detectives will next attempt to locate and contact the 6,000-plus victims, Gordon said.

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