St. Louis stores targeted by out-of-town fraud ring

CREVE COEUR, MO (KTVI) - “Information either gets compromised, hacked or they have someone inside the organization that has access to information that then takes it and forwards it to someone that shouldn’t have it,” said Creve Coeur Police Detective Cory Mueller.

Det. Mueller just described the birth of a fraud ring.

Mueller said 21-year-old Ephriam Jasper belongs to one of those criminal operations.

“He was given a fake driver’s license with his name on it and the victim’s info on it. He was also given all the account information to include the username and password on the account. The security questions. The victim’s DOB, address, and the phone number for the account as well,” Mueller said.

Recruited from Michigan to Texas and dispatched to Missouri, police say Jasper's mission was clear.

“What they were to do was come to different cell phone stores and max out the phone lines on the victims accounts. In doing so, we’re able to obtain new iPhone 7s,” Mueller said.

They then sell the phones on the secondary market while the victims are left to pay for the phones on their monthly bill.

According to police, Jasper's game plan started at this Sprint store on St. Charles Rock Rd. Using the stolen identity of a Texas man, his suspicious behavior led the store manager to inform other area stores. When Jasper arrived later in the day at this Olive Blvd. location, its employees were ready.

“When they began to question him, he claimed he was the son of the account holder,” Mueller said.

That was quickly proved false and he was arrested by Creve Coeur police. He's charged with identity theft. The case is pending. Det. Mueller said it's still unclear why this group picked Missouri.

“It’s just a traveling organization. From everything that we understand about it, you go to an area geographically, get what you can out of it, and move on to a separate part of the country,” Mueller said.

Det. Mueller said it's unclear exactly how the victim’s identity was stolen in this case, but believes it was likely the result of a data breach. Fox 2 also reached out to Sprint. A company representative said Sprint follows federal rules requiring proper customer authentication before accessing or disclosing customer account information. Many sprint stores use ID scan technology to detect fraudulent IDs and help protect against unauthorized account access.

For more information on how to protect yourself and respond if your identity is stolen, visit IdentityTheft.gov.