Major Criminal Enterprise Disabled
"Identity theft is the fastest growing crime here in Central Georgia if not across the country," says Detective Christopher Paul of the MPD's Financial Crimes Unit.
Early Tuesday morning, local SWAT teams executed five arrest warrants at four locations. It is the result of a year long investigation into fraud and identity theft conducted by five agencies including the FBI, Secret Service and Treasury Department.
The investigation all began on the desk of Christopher Paul, a Detective in the Financial Crimes Unit of the MPD.
"Initially I was just getting reports on my desk about the same type of crime. Just sitting down and looking at it I realized that this could possibly be connected. So, upon further investigation I figured out that it was connected and I called the FBI to see if they could give me some additional resources. So I contacted the FBI and they got me in touch with the Secret Service. And during our investigation we discovered that some of the people I was investigating, they had open cases on some of the same people as well. So we started pulling our resources together and Tuesday climaxed in the arrest of five people," says Paul.
Lillian Ann Tharpe, 54, Bridgette Sabrina Williams, 29, Antonio Lamont Kendricks, 31, Yolanda Yvette King, 30, and Rhonda Meshelle Everett, 37, were all arrested Tuesday on charges including fraud, identity theft, money laundering and forgery. Additional charges are pending.
This is the biggest arrest of Paul's career.
"This is one of the biggest ones I've made so far. That I've been a part of so far. We are still in the process of investigating this, we gathered miles of paperwork and evidence under the search warrants we conducted yesterday so wherever that evidence leads us, there may be further arrest pending," says Paul.
Cases like this are typically slow developing but Paul believes the Financial Crimes Unit is getting better and better at investigating this sort of criminal activity.