March 18, 2015

Tennessee man charged with stealing local man’s identity

A Tennessee man faces identity theft charges after an extensive investigation revealed he’d stolen a local man’s identity.

The victim, who lives in Tavernier, called the Sheriff’s Office in February of 2014 to report his identity had been compromised. He said someone obtained access to his personal email account and obtained sensitive personal information from that account, including access to his financial accounts, his social security number and other identifying information. Shortly after his email account was breached, the victim received a call from his investment company. They told him someone had tried to charge $50,000 to his account. The charge was stopped by their fraud department before it was posted. The company told him someone had tried to open a new account using his name, social security number and birthdate. The application gave an address in Memphis Tennessee, a Tennessee driver’s license number and a phone number that did not belong to the victim.

Detective Ian Barnett was assigned to investigate. When he checked the address given on the application, it returned to a man named Melvin Griggs; the driver’s license number also belonged to Griggs. Further investigation revealed Griggs had attempted to change the victim’s information with other financial companies as well, including Citibank and Capital Bank. Griggs had a new debit card for Capital Bank mailed to his Memphis address. Shortly afterward, he used the card to withdraw money from numerous ATM machines.

Detective Barnett obtained video from several of those ATM machines; the videos showed a man later identified as Griggs withdrawing cash from the machines.

Griggs attempted to make a number of on-line purchases which were billed to the victim, but the shipping address was the one in Tennessee. Griggs also applied for a number of credit cards in the victim’s name, and tried to open an account in his name with Wells Fargo. With most of these transactions, the company fraud departments caught the activity as possibly fraudulent and called the victim, who confirmed his identity had been stolen.

During the course of the investigation, Detective Barnett worked with the U.S Secret Service; that agency was conducting fraud investigations with connections to Griggs; he also received assistance from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security and from many fraud investigators working for financial institutions.

A warrant was obtained for Griggs for criminal use of personal identification information. Today, he was booked into the Plantation Key Jail on those charges.

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