Identity Thieves Loot More Than $100K, One Arrest So Far

Suspects in Identity Thefts that netted them at least $100,000 caught on store surveillance cameras. Photos provided by Charles County Sheriff's Department.

LA PLATA, Md. - The Charles County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a fraud scheme that began in December 2006. Charles County Crime Solvers is offering a reward for information that leads to an arrest or indictment in the case.

The investigation was initiated when several citizens, after receiving a bill or retailer’s inquiry, discovered fraudulent accounts had been opened in their names at businesses such as Lowe’s, The Home Depot, Nordstrom, Best Buy, Circuit City and Sears. The thieves used the victims’ personal information to open new accounts at the businesses. The accounts were then used to steal more than one-hundred-thousand dollars worth of merchandise at the retailers’ stores in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

During the investigation, detectives discovered the local victims had all made purchases at Waldorf Ford and Dodge between September and November 2006. Detectives determined Howard George Embden, 44, of Washington, D.C., was one of the suspects involved in the fraud scheme. Embden was previously employed as a car salesman at the dealership. Police arrested him on Dec. 20, 2006. He was charged with three counts. He was later released on bond.

Police believe that other suspects are involved in the scheme. Charles County detectives are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying them. The Sheriff’s Office has released several surveillance photographs taken by the retailer’s security cameras during the fraudulent transactions.

There are five known victims of this fraud scheme but the Sheriff’s Office believes there may be others. Anyone who believes they may be a victim of fraud is strongly encouraged to report the crime to the Sheriff’s Office.

Anyone who believes they may be a victim of this scheme, or who has information about this case, may contact the Financial Crimes Unit at 301-609-6510 or Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS. Crime Solvers is offering a reward for information that leads to an arrest or indictment in this investigation and all callers may remain anonymous.

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