SOUTH FORSYTH — A crime ring with roots in Forsyth County has drawn the attention of federal authorities.
In September, five people were arrested on drug, fraud and other charges in Forsyth County as part of an identity and mail theft investigation that could have up to 127 victims. Two federal agencies have since joined the probe.
“Currently, we have the U.S. Secret Service and the IRS looking into it,” said Doug Rainwater, a spokesman for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office.
“Specifically, they’re going to see if tax returns that [the suspects] filed last year will show any type of evidence that could be criminal for what they’ve been doing the last couple of years.”
The case began as a burglary probe. But a subsequent search of a home at 1725 Commonwealth Trail in south Forsyth turned up fraudulent Georgia driver’s licenses, fake checks, counterfeit currency and dozens of credit cards and financial and personal information of hundreds of people.
“The Secret Service is looking at the counterfeit side of it,” Rainwater said.
The suspects would reportedly go to mailboxes and pull out hospital bills and credit card applications.
“Going back to the same mailbox numerous times they could get a pretty good idea of who you are,” Rainwater said. “In many cases, they’d use the hospital bills and credit card applications to get a new credit card in your name.”
The suspects would later call the credit card company to say they were moving to a new address, so that mail would not show up in the victim’s mailbox.
The group then used false driver’s licenses to put counterfeit checks into bogus bank accounts, before withdrawing real money.
“They were able to fraudulently make driver’s licenses in your name and from that they would open up a bank account, and they would put forged checks into the bank account,” Rainwater said. “And before the bank realized this was a fraud they would withdraw all the money out.”
Additional charges from other counties are possible as the investigation continues.
“We think we have a few victims of these same five in Fulton County, so consequently the agencies in Fulton County are making reports,” Rainwater said. “If they feel these are the right people, then they’ll bring charges too.”
Daniel Moss and Sandra Stepp faced the most charges of the five suspects arrested. Each faces counts of first degree forgery, financial transaction card theft and manufacturing fictitious identification. Moss also was charged with identity fraud.
Also arrested as part of the investigation were:
* Alexandrea Moore, 20, of Cumming on possession of methamphetamine and drug-related objects.
* Aaron Stuart, 28, of Alpharetta for forgery in Forsyth County and an outstanding warrant in Gwinnett County.
* Kenneth Wilbanks, 23, of Cumming for felony probation violation.
“Our detectives are still working the case, and they’re still trying to just see what these two specifically have done, and … they’re having to look at paper trails everywhere,” Rainwater said. “If there’s other victims out there that come forward, there will be more charges added.”