A retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and Washington lawyer fabricated more than 25 identities that he used to obtain more than a half-million dollars worth of credit, according to a criminal complaint filed in Thursday in U.S. District Court.
Eugene Martin Frese, 66, of Edgewater, a former U.S. Justice Department employee, secured six post office boxes in Nevada, Maryland and Virginia in which credit cards were received under false names, said U.S. Postal Inspectors, who have been tracking him since November. Frese is charged with credit card fraud.
Inspectors said 21 accounts were opened using fraudulent Social Security numbers, accumulating $222,450 worth of credit through USAA Federal Savings Bank in San Antonio. Thirty-five accounts were set up at other institutions using 26 names to get another $326,500 worth of credit.
American Express is also investigating 23 accounts with unlimited credit in 10 names that use one of Frese's post office boxes, officials said.
Tom Boyle, a spokesman for the postal inspectors office, would not comment on the investigation or on what led USAA to suspect the fraud. But after being alerted, inspectors began looking into
Frese's activities in November.
Telephone numbers, job descriptions, and Social Security numbers were provided on credit applications, inspectors said. The Social Security numbers belonged to others, had never been issued or had been issued to people now dead. Most applications used the same Washington phone number and listed as the "applicant's" occupation as Air Force officer, accountant or attorney.
Inspectors allege that post office boxes were used in Reno, Nev., Arlington and Alexandria, Va., and Edgewater and Mayo Beach as mailing addresses to receive credit card statements.
The USAA credit cards were used mostly to get cash at automatic teller machines, postal officials said. Only one of the 21 cards USAA issued has a current balance of more than $500. A card issued in the name of Douglas Graves has a balance of $7,536.86 and was used 26 times between April 4 and Dec. 26 of last year to make ATM cash withdrawals, according to authorities.
Postal inspectors used photographs from Frese's Virginia driver's license to identify him as the leaser of the post office boxes, the complaint said.
An affidavit from a postal employee identified Frese and explained that he had represented himself as George Petropolous and had sought to pay off the account of a cousin he called "Harold Payton," who had rented a box.
USAA began investigating by leaving messages for various aliases at the Washington telephone number. The bank left a "trap and trace" phone number for callers to return. In one instance, a man returned a call saying his sister, one of the cardholders, was in Africa with the Peace Corps.
Other calls were traced to the home of Roberta E. Dorn in the 3800 block of Cotter Drive in Edgewater. She is a program specialist in juvenile justice and delinquency with the Justice Department.
Frese was arrested at Dorn's home Friday and held in Central Booking and Intake Center in Baltimore for a bail hearing today.
Pub Date: 2/02/99