|For Immediate Release
April 2, 2007
Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
FOUR CHARGED IN IDENTITY THEFT CONSPIRACY
FOR STEALING MORE THAN $500,000
SANTA ANA – Four defendants have been charged in a conspiracy and identity theft ring with victims in Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and San Diego counties. Michael Alexander Hartsell, 50, and Patricia Ann McIntosh, 42, both of Vista, California were arrested on Thursday March 29, 2007 at their residence and will be arraigned today at 1:30 p.m. in Department C-5, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana. Natasha Chiara Di Lorenzo, 31, and William Andrew Padworski, 47, both of Oceanside, California, who are currently in State Prison for other offenses will be arraigned on April 18, 2007. Defendants are charged with 187 felony counts including conspiracy, identity theft, grand theft, computer access and fraud, receiving stolen property, forgery, false personation, and other charges.
If convicted on all counts, the defendants are facing possible maximum sentences of up to 96 years. They are all being held on $500,000 bail each.
Between January 1, 2005 and January 31, 2007, defendants are accused of using a mortgage finance company, First Choice Mortgage in Vista, San Diego County, to access the databases of three major credit agencies including Experian Corporation, TransUnion Corporation, and Equifax Corporation. The defendants are accused of gaining access to the credit agencies’ confidential files and stealing the personal information of more than 100 victims in Southern California counties, including Orange County and San Diego County. The defendants are accused of making numerous transactions through major retailers such as Costco, Home Depot, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, Nordstrom, and Sears, using credit card accounts they created in the names of the stolen identities. Current losses are estimated at $500,000, and the investigation is ongoing.
This case was a joint effort between the Orange County District Attorney’s office and the Carlsbad Police Department, Escondido Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Orange County Sheriff’s Department, San Diego County District Attorney, San Diego Sheriff’s Department, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, and the United States Secret Service.
Anyone who has been a customer of First Choice Mortgage and the victim of identity theft is encouraged to contact Supervising District Attorney Investigator Bob Helvin at 714-347-8691.
Deputy District Attorney David Demurjian of the Economic Crimes Unit is prosecuting this case.