TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Police Close in on Identity Theft Ring

Police Close in on Identity Theft Ring

John R. Ellement (
Wed, 22 Nov 2006 15:46:43 -0600

Alleged Leader Remains at Large
By John R. Ellement, Globe Staff

The interstate pursuit of a sophisticated identity theft ring
allegedly responsible for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars
led Boston police to a pulsating pile of clothes in a Hyde Park

Police Detective Steven F. Blair said he found Carol Silva in a closet
Friday night and that her hiding place was discovered because the mass
of clothes she used to cover herself rose up and down with her

Blair said Silva is the alleged sixth member of a seven-member ring
active in Boston, Rhode Island, New York, Washington, D.C., and
Maryland -- and the hunt is now on for the ring's alleged mastermind,
Charles Belin of Boston.

"We only have one person left to go, and that's Charles Belin," Blair
said. "We need help from the community. If they see him, give us a
call. We'd love to arrest him. "

Blair said the ring was connected to a recent wave of pocketbook
thefts along Newbury and Boylston streets and that the arrest of Silva
and five others has dramatically decreased that type of crime in
downtown Boston.

Belin, 55, and Silva, 54, according to Blair, are targets of a federal
investigation in Maryland. A spokeswoman for the US attorney's office
in Maryland would neither confirm nor deny the investigation, but she
said Silva had not been charged federally in Maryland.

Blair said Silva's task in the multilevel ring was to pose as an
identity theft victim -- complete with fake driver's license -- and
withdraw tens of thousands of dollars from banks before the victim and
banks learned they had been targeted.

He said the sophisticated ring has members who specialize in portions
of the criminal network. Someone steals a pocketbook, another person
makes up fake identification using the name on checks found in the
stolen purse, and another person then poses as the legitimate bank
customer to quickly withdraw thousands from inflated bank accounts.

Silva was arraigned yesterday in West Roxbury Municipal Court as a
fugitive from justice in Maryland and charges unrelated to the
identity theft ring.

Boston police said they had received a tip Friday that Silva was
staying at an address on Madison Street in Hyde Park. Investigators
saw her enter the residence before they asked permission to search for
her there.

Silva was ordered held without bail by Judge Mary Ann Driscoll and is
to be arraigned tomorrow in Boston Municipal Court, where she is
charged with stealing $23,900 using a fake ID in October 2004.

Her defense attorney, Paul V. Marino, said after the arraignment that
Silva did not know Boston police were looking for her and was unaware
that images of her cashing checks had been posted on the department's

But Blair said Silva returned to Boston earlier this year after
authorities in Maryland released surveillance photos of her in that
region. "She knew it was getting hot, so she came back to Boston," he

The key to the ring's success is finding checking account information
inside a pocketbook, Blair said. The thieves take checks from one
victim to deposit tens of thousands of dollars into another victim's
bank account. And before bank security is alerted, they withdraw the
cash with fake identification.

Blair said people need to be vigilant about protecting their personal
information. "A pocketbook today is now worth a quick $30,000," he
said. "They lose their identification -- that's the most important
thing in this world."

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

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