Manatee man facing 104 felonies in fraud investigation
SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - A Manatee County man faces more than 100 felony counts after investigators say he used at least 28 people’s personal information to create fake identities in order to purchase expensive items in area stores, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office says.
Cristopher Crouch, 23, has been the subject of an investigation of identity theft-related crimes over the last few months, authorities say.
Crouch was arrested and booked on fraud charges in February but the investigation has continued, and the charges -- now up to 104 fraud-related felonies -- have been piling up.
Detectives determined Crouch, dating back to August 2019, used victims’ personal information to obtain bank accounts and create credit accounts at Dicks Sporting Goods, Lowes, Home Depot, Bealls, and Marshalls, deputies say. In each case, Crouch is accused of creating a fictitious driver’s license utilizing the victims’ personal information and his photograph. Deputies say he then went to the businesses to create the accounts and would purchase expensive items immediately after being approved for the accounts.
While Crouch has not told investigators how he obtained his victims’ data, authorities tell ABC7 they theorize he stole personal information from mailboxes, and possibly the trash. He lived off his girlfriend’s income, investigators said.
Following the execution of a search warrant, detectives obtained a significant amount of evidence for more identity theft victims. Detectives discovered fraudulent credit card applications, account takeovers, an attempt to launder a stolen vehicle, and fraudulent bank accounts with victims’ identities.
The investigation also discovered that Crouch used a stolen identity to purchase cellphones and rent the apartment he was residing in - attempting to create an additional layer of anonymity between himself and the crimes, the sheriff’s office says.
Crouch is now charged in seven cases with a total of 28 victims. He remains in the Manatee County Jail.
Here’s a list of some of his charges:
- 41 counts of fraudulent use of personal identity information
- 18 counts of fraudulent use of personal identity information for people over 60 years of age
- 7 counts of uttering a forged document
- 3 counts of bank fraud
- 1 count of fraudulent use of personal identity information in excesss of $5,000
- 2 counts of grand theft
- 3 counts of possession of counterfeit driver’s licenses
He’s also charged with fraudulent use of a credit card; scheme to defraud; dealing in stolen property and motor vehicle title fraud.
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