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Sat Feb 18, 2017, 06:40 AM

Eight Individuals Face Fraud, Identity Theft Charges- More Than 143,000 Individuals


Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Utah

Friday, February 17, 2017

Eight Individuals Face Fraud, Identity Theft Charges Involving Possession of Names, Information of More Than 143,000 Individuals

Indictment Alleges They Used Personal Identifying Information to Open Credit Accounts and Make Purchases at Stores

SALT LAKE CITY – A 56-count federal indictment returned by a Utah grand jury charges eight individuals in connection with what the indictment alleges was a scheme to use fraudulently created identification documents and fraudulently obtained bank account information to open store credit accounts. The defendants then used the newly-obtained credit to make purchases at various merchants in Salt Lake County.

The indictment alleges the defendants possessed the names of more than 143,000 individuals – nearly one in 20 Utahns – most of whom either live in Utah or lived in the state at some point. In addition to the names, the defendants had corresponding personal identifying information of these individuals. The source of the information is not known, but the format of the database suggests it may have come from a medical insurance provider or a business who provided services to a medical insurance provider more than five years ago.

Charged in the indictment are Danny Lechtenberg, age 36, Jesse Ryan Bell, age 30, Christopher Wayne Cummings, age 33, Jody Ray Bledsoe, age 44, and Christopher Winterton, age 35, all of Taylorsville; Carolina Cueller Morton, age 53, and Donald Leslie Peck, age 51, both of Salt Lake City; and Tina Marie Schilling, age 57, of West Valley City.

According to the indictment, the defendants obtained the names and personal identifying information of individuals primarily living in Utah, created false and fraudulent identification documents using the individuals’ personal identifying information; opened credit accounts at retail merchants; and made fraudulent purchases using the names and credit account numbers taken out in the names of the individuals knowing that financial institutions, which secured the credit cards for the merchants, would rely on the fraudulent information provided to open and secure these credit accounts.

Each defendant is charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud in the first count of the indictment. Lechtenberg is also charged with bank fraud, possession with intent to use or transfer five or more documents; using an unauthorized access device; aggravated identity theft; and unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance – marijuana. In addition to the conspiracy to commit bank fraud count, the other defendants face bank fraud, using an unauthorized access device, and aggravated identity theft counts. (See the chart at the end of the press release for more specific information on the individual charges.)

While more than 143,000 people were included in the database, the evidence suggests that only a small number of people had their identity used for a fraudulent purpose. Those individuals who have been identified as suffering a direct impact have been notified that they are victims of the charged crimes.

To determine if your personal information was included in the compromised database, please contact the Department of Justice’s Mega-Victim Case Assistance Program at 1-844-527-5299 or USAEO.MCAP@usdoj.gov
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. If there was evidence to suggest that your information was used for a fraudulent purpose, you should have already received a personal letter from the Victim Notification System. Even if you are not among the identified victims, however, it is possible that your information may have been used on third party websites to check credit scores or obtain unauthorized credit accounts. We encourage you to monitor your credit and notify investigators if you suspect fraudulent activity.

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