Federal authorities and police in two Baltimore-area counties are investigating what is believed to be an interstate identity-theft scheme that was foiled this week at a Glen Burnie department store.
Three Kansas residents were charged with multiple counts of theft in Anne Arundel County yesterday as authorities worked to determine the extent of the alleged scheme, which police said involved using others' identities to establish credit cards and buy items to sell on the Internet.
According to charging documents, employees became suspicious as the men - one wearing a suit and tie - shopped for expensive items at the Boscov's store at Marley Station Mall. Fraud investigators for the store checked the men's information and determined that they were using the identities of Alabama residents, who were contacted and said that they had not opened store credit accounts.
Confronted with the information, one of the men, Charles Ingram, fled from the customer pickup area, and an "intense" struggle ensued with four store detectives, police said.
A white rental van found in that area contained a large number of boxes covered with a tarp. Inside, detectives found more than $7,600 in tools purchased from Home Depot stores in Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties.
The two other Kansas men, Valdaze McDaniel and Bryan Gatlin, were arrested in the store without incident, police said.
Police said Ingram had purchased about $2,120 worth of products in the store's home area, including a television and a GPS unit, and that McDaniel and Gatlin had together bought $2,930 worth of jewelry. The men were carrying a combined $6,400 in cash, which was seized as evidence, police said.
The men are suspected of offering for sale on the Internet items that they did not own and, once an order was placed and money had been sent, using false credit accounts to purchase the items. Detectives recovered paperwork that included shipping receipts, order confirmations, shopping lists and hotel reservations.
McDaniel and Gatlin were charged with multiple counts of fraud, making false statements, forgery, and theft. In addition to theft-related charges, Ingram was charged with five counts of second-degree assault and one count of resisting arrest.
Baltimore County police spokesman Bill Toohey said detectives were reviewing an inventory of the recovered items to determine whether there was a link to crimes there.
The FBI's field office in Baltimore also was contacted, and possible federal charges are being explored, according to charging documents.