1 arrested, more expected in Altus identity theft case
ALTUS, Okla._Altus police are investigating a case of identity theft that could impact hundreds of people in that city.
One man has been arrested, but police say they believe others are involved. Authorities arrested 38-year-old Kevin Jackson Saturday after he tried to cash a stolen check at a local bank. Police say Jackson admitted to stealing the checks. When investigators searched his car, they found more stolen checks, altered identification cards and other personal information that did not belong to him.
Altus police say as many as 150 people may have been targeted, and they are still sorting through evidence. Police say Jackson was taking other people's mail and getting their personal information. He was using it to apply for credit cards using their names and having them sent to his home as well as making fake IDs. Those items were all found in his car, but they didn't stop looking there.
After searching through Jackson's car, police say they had enough evidence to get a search warrant for his home. There, police found bags of stolen mail, printers and lamination machines.
"This was the biggest mail fraud case I think I've ever seen. We had a pickup load of evidence. We were amazed at how many different addresses we saw and concerned about how much he had victimized and how long it's happened," Capt. Tommy Uptergrove said.
Captain Uptergrove says he suspects this has been going on up to a month and a half.
"What got our attention was he had handwritten itineraries and personal information, making lists of who he could use," Capt. Uptergrove said.
He says Jackson was targeting mailboxes in the north part of Altus, searching for checks, credit cards and anything that helped him steal your identity. Police don't believe Jackson was in it alone.
"Just the broad scope of how much there is, I don't think, it appears more than one person could do this in that amount of time," Capt. Uptergrove said.
Some victims, Capt. Uptergrove says, Jackson tried to hit several times.
"If that's the case with more than one person, two people, with every address out there, we could be working this a long time," he explained.
Victims that police have interviewed say they are worried about what this may have done.
"Once you find your identity has been stolen, there are so many ways a person can affect your life and it's scary," Capt. Uptergrove said.
While police continue to sort through the mail they have found, they are urging people to be on guard.
"Shred your mail, shred your documents, anything you throw out in the trash. There's no indication trash was pulled, but look what's going out in your mailbox, be vigilant in your neighborhood," Capt. Uptergrove said.
Police say the postmaster has been told about this investigation. Once police complete their work, they will turn it over to federal authorities to let them decide if they want to file federal charges against Jackson or anyone else involved.
If you think you could have been targeted, call them at 580-482-4121. Police are asking anyone who may have information of anyone else involved in this identity theft to call the department or Crime Stoppers at 580-482-TIPS (8477).