2 Russians accused of ID theft for smartphone buys
BATON ROUGE, LA -- Two Russian women living in New York state used fake IDs to get dozens of $500 iPhones for about $200 each in Texas, Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma by taking out long-term contracts under other people's names.
Gulnara Rothwell, also known as Gulnara Bagautdinova, and Olga Neye, also known as Olga Maltseva, each is charged with aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to get and use false identification, U.S. Attorney Donald Cazayoux Jr. said Tuesday. They are charged in bills of information.
Court papers show that Rothwell has agreed to plead guilty. Neye's attorney, Marci Blaize, told The Advocate (http://bit.ly/LVkzTk) that Neye "will enter a guilty plea in the near future. It's an ongoing case, so I'm not at liberty to discuss anything further."
"They were caught by themselves. We really don't know if it was part of a bigger scheme," Cazayoux told The Associated Press. However, he said, investigators don't know of any other potential defendants.
An Iberville Parish sheriff's deputy stopped the women's car on Interstate 10 for speeding late April 1, got permission to search it and found 27 driver's licenses with their photos but other people's ID, 81 Apple iPhone 4S phones, and a laminator and other equipment that could be used to make fake IDs, The Advocate (http://bit.ly/LVkzTk) reported.
Detective Tim Fabre alerted the Secret Service, court records show.
The 27 licenses bore addresses in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland or Ohio and looked as if those states had issued them, according to an affidavit by Special Agent R. Eric Bragg, of the Secret Service.
Criminals who buy smartphones at a discount by shoving long-term wireless contracts onto identity-theft victims can easily double their money on eBay or Craigslist, Bragg said in the affidavit.
Court records list Neye as born in 1986 and living in New York. Rothwell is listed as being born in 1987 and living in Huntington, N.Y.
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