Oakland police arrest suspect in giant identity theft investigation
on May 16, 2011
In cooperation with the U.S. Secret Service, the Oakland Police Department has shut down a large-scale ID theft plant in Hayward, police officers announced at a press conference today.
The biggest identify theft operation in the Oakland Police Department’s history was run out of an apartment on Foothill Boulevard in Hayward where 40 year old suspect Mishel Denise Caviness-Williams was arrested last week. She has been charged with several counts of identity theft and forgery as well as one count of grand theft said District Attorney Kevin Dunleavy.
In her apartment, police said they found what seemed to be an ID, credit card and check-making plant, with personal information for up to 1,000 Californians and possibly also out of state residents. Her apartment contained numerous printers able to produce California IDs, credit cards, Social Security cards, and checks. The police secured about 900 blank credit cards that hadn’t been printed yet and “stacks and stacks of blank checks and numerous IDs,“ said Investigator Officer Ryan Goodfellow.
The investigation that led to the discovery started in late January when an Oakland city employee noticed that checks were being fraudulently cashed on her account. Video surveillance in various stores helped to identify Caviness-Williams who police say had cashed 7 checks with the total value of almost $1,000 in Bay Area shops since the end of January. According to Goodfellow, Caviness-Williams told the police that she was permanently disabled and currently unemployed. She was convicted of welfare fraud in 2000, according to legal records released by the OPD.
Police said that the case is still under investigation and that there is potential for more suspects to be identified in the large-scale ID theft operation. OPD Media Relations Officer Holly Joshi said that “due to the amount of equipment that they had, and the amount of potential victims’ information that they did have stored in a very sophisticated record keeping management system” the police have reason to believe that the operation has been going for a while.
As the investigation continues, all people whose personal information has been compromised will be notified. Joshi advised citizens to keep an eye on their credit reports and work closely with their banks’ fraud prevention personnel to prevent identity theft.
All photos courtesy Oakland Police Department.
Oakland North is an online news service produced by students at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and covering Oakland, California. Our goals are to improve local coverage, innovate with digital media, and listen to you–about the issues that concern you and the reporting you’d like to see in your community. Please send news tips to: firstname.lastname@example.org.