CLEVELAND – Identity thieves have targeted northeast Ohio residents, racking up more than $100,000 in fraudulent charges.
Fraudulent charges are piling up from J.Crew, Office Depot, Best Buy and more. Police say more than $14,000 has been racked up on Matthew Stein’s credit from a spending spree in New York, where an identity thief opened seven credit cards in Stein’s name.
“It’s a little scary,” Stein said. “The thing that surprised me the most was credit agencies don’t have better alarms to tip them off to this.”
Stein is one of 16 victims.
The 5 On Your Side Consumer Unit found the thieves used identities of northeast Ohio residents in states across the country from New York to California. The thieves have allegedly spent more than $100,000 at 13 stores including Best Buy, Kohl’s and Macy’s.
Berea and Copley police are investigating. Both agencies say the victims live in Ryan Homes developments. The company has not returned repeated calls for comment, but police say Ryan Homes has not acknowledged a security breach.
“The best we can determine, they all had the same builder and we are focusing on that as part of the investigation,” said Copley Township Police Lt. Luke Marchmon. “Detectives have been in contact with Ryan Homes and they have been cooperative.”
Police believe the thieves have a lot of information including social security numbers and copies of driver’s licenses.
“I got a call from a detective outside of New York City and they caught someone with my ID,” Stein explained.