ST. PAUL (Feb. 10, 2014) — Two St. Paul men, Run-Ger Vang, 25 and Chao Moua, 26 were charged Monday with one count each of Identity Theft in connection with a month-long crime spree that covered several metro-area communities and even extended into Western Wisconsin.
Authorities uncovered hundreds of different types of identities during the investigation.
“This case illustrates my growing concern about how common identity theft is in our community,” said Ramsey County Attorney John Choi. “Once identities are in their possession, criminals devise numerous schemes to commit fraud or other criminal acts. They can get the information they need to assume your identity from a variety of sources: stealing your mail, rifling through your trash or phishing for bank information through spam e-mails. I want to commend law enforcement as well as the public for helping to bring this crime spree to an end.”
According to the complaint, early in the morning of February 7, St. Paul police conducted a traffic stop in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood of a RAV4 that had been previously documented by Woodbury police and a Roseville resident as a vehicle suspected in connection with several recent mail thefts.
St. Paul officers observed mail in plain view during the stop. After arresting both defendants, officers discovered tax documents, checkbooks, unopened packages and additional credit cards from several cities, including Roseville and Woodbury, throughout the vehicle.
Additional investigation by the Woodbury Police Department revealed the two men had used some of the credit cards and cashed stolen checks made out to themselves, including one totaling $1,800.
Vang told a U.S. Postal Service inspector and a Roseville police detective that he concentrated on the suburbs because he “had more success in those areas”.
Among the items recovered from the vehicle was a notebook containing handwritten names, addresses, and social security numbers belonging to 11 different individuals. Over the course of several weeks, the two defendants managed to steal the property of hundreds of victims.
Moua even admitted he tried to file an online tax return for one for one of his victims in order to capture the refund.
The U.S. Postal Service has custody of the stolen pieces of mail and will be returning them their original addresses this week. They will also include a notice of what to do if the homeowner suspects they have been a victim of mail theft or identity theft.
Go to the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department for general tips for avoiding ID theft at www.co.ramsey.mn.us/sheriff/crimeprevention/idtheft-intro.htm.
Check out the St. Paul Police Department for what to do if your identity is stolen at www.stpaul.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/14759.
County Attorney Choi created a Financial Fraud prosecution unit in 2011 to better address identity theft and financial fraud in Ramsey County. A 2012 article highlighted his thought process behind this unit.
It should be noted that a criminal complaint is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.