Eight accused of operating identity theft ring

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By Deborah Swearingen

Eight people have been indicted on 68 counts of theft, identity theft and more for allegedly operating an identity theft ring in Jefferson County and elsewhere in the metro area between December 2017 and April 2018.

Four men and four women are accused of operating the ring, which affected at least 26 merchants and 14 victims, according to the indictment. Six of the eight have been arrested, while two suspects — Faith Knight and Dwone Ector — remain at large.

The following individuals have been arrested:

• Jacob Westfall, 20.

• Matthew Lane, 42.

• Michael John Mancuso, 28.

• Texie Lane, 35.

• Chelsea Dix, 24.

• Kristina Babe, 40.

Furthermore, Mancuso is accused of violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act by participating in racketeering, or when organized groups run illegal businesses.

According to a press release from the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, the eight suspects illegally obtained financial and personal information from people such as names, addresses, credit card numbers and more. Most of the information came from Chase Visa credit cards.

After obtaining the information, the suspects purchased a variety of things, including bicycles, jewelry, clothing, motor vehicles, gift cards and musical information. In many scenarios, one of the eight would contact a business by phone looking to purchase an item for a relative. Then, they would provide the credit card information over the phone and send another member of the group to pick up the purchase.

Many of the items were sold to pawn shops, with members being promised a fee for each item sold.

Over the four-month period, the suspects hit a number of local businesses in Jefferson, Adams, Denver andArapahoe counties and as well as several others. Among other things, the indictment accuses Mancuso of using stolen credit card information to rent a cabin at Colorado Bear Creek Cabins in Evergreen. Furthermore, it says Dix sold a guitar that she didn’t own to Music Go Round in South Jeffco.

The eight suspects face charges of identity theft, theft, conspiracy to commit theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, false information to a pawnbroker, aggravated motor vehicle theft and attempted theft.