4th suspect arrested in Surfside identity theft scheme
A fourth suspect accused of participating in an intricate scheme to steal the identities of victims of the Surfside condo collapse has been arrested.
Detectives say Nelson Ronaldo Garcia-Medina, 20, used the name of a person killed in the tragedy to buy a $130 pair of sneakers.
His arrest comes after Betsy Alejandra Cacho-Medina, 30, Kimberly Michelle Johnson, 34, and Rodney Choute, 38, were taken into custody in the scheme Wednesday morning. They face 15-30 years if convicted of their various charges.
Authorities say Garcia-Medina is Cacho-Medina’s brother.
Detectives executed a search warrant at Garcia-Medina home Wednesday and found a notebook “that contained written instructions on how to obtain free credit reports in [victimes’] names as well as instructions on how to conduct sim swaps over the phone,” according to an arrest report.
Investigators say sim swaps are a tactic used by this “fraud group” to contact a victim’s phone carrier and use their personal information “to illegally swap the victim’s phone number to a new phone without the victim’s knowledge or consent.”
Detectives say they also found merchandise and receipts showing the use of stolen credit cards to make purchases.
That included one receipt from a purchase using the stolen identity of a person killed in the June 24 collapse of the Champlain Towers South. Garcia-Medina is accused of using that identity to buy a $130 pair of Jordan sneakers that were found in his room.
He was taken to Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said Wednesday that the investigation is ongoing that there may be more co-conspirators and victims.
If you believe you or someone you know may be a victim of such a crime, you are urged to call a hotline set up at 786-801-6086.
This is a developing news story. Check back and watch Local 10 for updates.
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