DETROIT (WWJ) – A man who police say plays a major role in a large identity theft ring has been arrested at an abandoned house in northwest Detroit.
Special agents with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations took 59-year-old Larry Pearson into custody earlier this week for allegedly using the identity of several metro Detroit residents to withdraw cash from area banks. He was turned over to the Grosse Pointe Farms Police Department and arraigned Wednesday in 32B District Court on identity theft charges.
Lt. Rich Rosati said feds who had been investigating a sophisticated identity theft ring gave his department a tip that broke the case open.
“When they saw that they had another complainant in our town, they contacted us,” Rosati told WWJ’s Russ McNamara. “They tracked a phone number that was calling on our complainant’s account, and they tracked it to an individual, which started a manhunt.”
Rosati said their manhunt was actually for another person, but it led them to Parsons, who is related to their original suspect.
“So basically, in looking for one person, we ended up finding the one who actually made the transactions at the bank, the guy who was in the video photos,” he said. “The federal agents I was working with caught up with him on Monday, and he was finally found.”
The investigation is ongoing and other arrests are likely, Rosati said, as the ring has victimized several people in metro Detroit.
“This group here has probably netted over $100,000 in identity theft so far. My complaint only lost $8,500, but if you consider all of what they’ve been doing around the metro Detroit area, we’re talking about over $100,000,” he said.
Investigators believe some members in the identity theft ring are working on the inside, which is how they obtain personal details about their victims.
“Usually, information is garnered from financial or even medical institutions because, you know, you have to fill out all that information. And then you have people who work within those organizations who are not on the up-and-up, and they end up getting that information and selling it to others,” Rosati said.
The criminals then use the information they purchased to counterfeit state ID’s and other documents, such as social security cards.
“So, Pearson for instance, he went into a bank with an ID that had my complainant’s name and address and all that, so there was no reason for the bank teller not to believe that it was that person. So, they wouldn’t be going to a bank, say, in Grosse Pointe because the tellers might be familiar with the victims. Instead, they’ll go to a bank in Clinton Township, like Parsons did, where the tellers don’t know who so-and-so is from anybody else,” Rosati said.
Anyone who might think they’re a victim in the case or who has any information is urged to contact investigators at 313-226-0500, or www.ICE.gov/tips.