Two men were arrested in connection with identity theft after a bank employee spotted a suspicious account, the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office said.
William Brown Jr., 40, was charged with one count each of Organized Fraud, Criminal Use of Personal Identification Information, and Grand Theft. Leroy Darvon Stevenson, 42, was charged with one count each of Organized Fraud, Criminal Use of Personal Identification Information, Grand Theft, and Possession of Stolen Property Drivers License or ID Card.
Deputies said they found additional personal identification information from additional victims inside a car that was seized at the time of their arrest. Among the contraband were 10 more counterfeit driver licenses with the suspects’ photos and victims’ personal information. Additional charges are pending.
Deputies said that a Brannen Bank employee told the department’s economic crimes unit Nov. 1 that a man, later identified as Brown, had opened a fraudulent account with the bank. Brown used a counterfeit drivers license with his picture and the personal identification information of an unknowing victim. Brown had deposited $5,000 via direct deposit into the newly created account.
While investigating this direct deposit, it was discovered that the deposit originated from an $8,000 loan obtained from another local lending institution. The loan was obtained by using the same victim’s information as used on the Brannen Bank account.
After deputies contacted the original lender, an employee of this financial institution described a similar suspicious loan application in the amount of $5,000 from another man, later identified as Stevenson. The lending institution said its officials believed that the loan application was fraudulent, involving another unknowing victim’s personal identification information. This employee alerted detectives that this applicant would be arriving momentarily with what appeared to be a counterfeit driver’s license.
As detectives waited, Brown arrived driving a 2017 Lincoln sedan with Stevenson in the passenger seat. Brown dropped Stevenson off at the lending institution, while Brown parked across the parking lot to wait.
Sheriff’s detectives said they simultaneously took Brown and Stevenson into custody, along with the Lincoln sedan.
During interviews, detectives said they discovered that Brown and Stevenson had purchased the counterfeit drivers licenses and personal identification information on the Dark Web.