Prolific scammer had long list of victims
There are times when I hear about some crime that I invoke Ron Burgundy and think to myself, “…you ate a whole wheel of cheese? How’d you do that? I’m not even mad. That’s amazing.” Of course, I don’t actually condone the crime, it’s just that sometimes you can’t help but be impressed that someone pulled off a scheme, while at the same time being happy they were caught. Put another way, it’s like when the guys in Office Space are looking up “money laundering” in the dictionary and a frustrated Michael says, “You know what I can’t figure out? How is it that all these stupid, neanderthal, mafia guys can be so good at crime and smart guys like us can suck so badly at it?”
Which brings us to 44-year-old Casey Ennis of Audubon, New Jersey. On Tuesday, the New Jersey State Police announced that they arrested Ennis for allegedly funding more than 1,800 (eighteen hundred!) online gambling accounts using stolen identities. He also used the stolen identities to scam the state out of unemployment benefits.
The investigation began in January of last year when some people contacted the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to inform them that online gambling accounts had been created in their names without permission. The NJDGE then got on the horn with detectives in the state’s Financial Crimes Unit, which nabbed Ennis after a 17-month investigation.
Used stolen identities in multiple ways
Officials did not say how much money Ennis made through the fraudulent online gambling accounts, but he was linked to more than $52,000 in withdrawals and purchases connected to his unemployment benefits scheme. In that plot, Ennis used the stolen identities to do two things: generate fraudulent unemployment claims and create fake bank accounts. He transfer the funds from the claims to the bank accounts and then make cash withdrawals.
Police finally arrested Ennis on May 14, seizing $491 cash, a three grams of methamphetamine, and over 30 electronic devices.
“As this case illustrates, identity theft can pose an insidious and expensive threat to individuals, businesses, and government programs,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal in a press release. “For individuals, the cost, disruption, and invasion of privacy involved in having one’s identity stolen can be truly traumatic. We will continue to devote the resources necessary to investigate and aggressively prosecute those who commit these crimes.”
Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, called identity theft “one of the most invasive and intimate non-violent crimes there is.”
DGE Director David Rebuck noted that with all of us putting so much information on the internet and using credit cards for everything, there is more opportunity for identity thieves to strike. The silver lining, he said, was that there are systems in place to spot fraudulent activity because there are so many electronic trails.
Ennis was charged was a slew of crimes, including identity theft, credit card theft, computer related crimes, theft by deception, forgery, and possession of methamphetamine.