MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A 43-year-old woman pleaded guilty in a St. Paul federal court Wednesday to taking part in a large-scale identity theft ring that spanned multiple states and robbed businesses and financial institutions of around $2 million, the Department of Justice said.
Kelly Jenelle Scott admitted to stealing personal information (driver’s licenses, bank account numbers) and using it to create counterfeit checks from 2010 through November of 2011. She said she’d pass the checks at retail stores and banks. She said she made more the $15,000 worth of fraudulent purchases and attempted fraudulent purchases in multiple states.
Scott, who was initially charged on July 5, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and to one count of identity theft. For those crimes, Scott faces a maximum penalty of more than 32 years in prison. District Court Judge Paul A. Magnuson will sentence her at a later date, the department said.
The theft ring Scott was part of would negotiate counterfeit checks at retail stores in an effort to buy expensive items, the department said. They would then return the items for cash. Scott’s co-conspirators would also deposit counterfeit checks into the accounts of unsuspecting people only the take money out shortly after. The group operated in some 14 states.
Fifteen of Scott’s co-conspirators have already pleaded guilty to various counts of bank fraud, identity theft and money laundering. One more is scheduled to plead guilty on Thursday.
Ten others have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial, the department said.