|March 8, 2005
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150
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TALLAHASSEE - Attorney General Charlie Crist today filed charges against a Broward County woman for running an identity theft scheme that victimized individuals in five Florida counties and three other states. Samara Seward, 27, of Coconut Creek, will be prosecuted by the Attorney General's Office of Statewide Prosecution for fraudulent use of personal identity information and grand theft under Florida's Identity Theft statute.
Between May and December 2004, Seward obtained the personal information of more than 20 Wachovia Bank customers and was able to change passwords, order debit cards and bank checks, and perform changes of address in order to pass fraudulent checks and obtain approximately $100,000. Seward was also able to obtain fraudulent driver licenses in the names of some of the victims in order to continue her fraudulent activities.
"To have one's identity stolen is humiliating and debilitating," said Crist. "We sought the ID theft statute to specifically address this debasing crime, and it has been an invaluable tool as we prosecute offenders to the fullest extent of the law."
Seward targeted victims in Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Duval and Okaloosa counties, as well as in Georgia, Maryland and Texas. Each of the charges against Seward is a first-degree felony. If found guilty, she will face up to 60 years in prison, with a minimum mandatory sentence of five years for a conviction on the ID theft charge. The investigation was conducted by the Jupiter Police Department, with substantial assistance from Wachovia Bank.