Local News

Two arrested in cell phone scam

SEBRING - Two Dade County men were arrested Thursday on suspicion of being involved in an identity theft scheme involving fraudulently purchased cell phones. Alexis J. Gonzalez, 23, of 1900 West 68th St., Lot B401, Hialeah and Raul Alberto, 32, 6759 Southwest 88th St., Apt./Lot C320, Miami, were charged with third-degree grand theft, obtaining property by fraud, scheming to defraud and criminal use of personal identification information. The arrests came two days after the Highlands County Sheriff's Office issued a press release about more than 10 cases in which residents have received packages containing Verizon cell phones they never ordered. In those cases, someone obtained personal information from the resident and ordered the phones, authorities said. Shortly after the cell phones were delivered, a white vehicle arrived at the residence and someone came to the door saying the phones were delivered to the wrong addresses, the press release said.
Eventually, the resident received a bill for the cell phone, the press release said. The arrests came after an investigator received information that cell phones would be delivered to a residence in Sebring, an arrest report said. Detectives staked out the residence and when a UPS driver arrived, a man later identified as Gonzalez intercepted the driver and told him he was authorized to sign for the package, which contained cell phones, the arrest report said. Deputies then followed the vehicle and stopped it, the arrest report said. Alberto, the driver, "spontaneously uttered that he should not be in trouble because he was just picking up the package. He stated he was told there would not be any problem; he was just supposed to pick up the package, and he would be paid $200," the report said. Despite having been identified as the driver, he told authorities that he paid a driver $100 and spent $30, which resulted in him earning $70, the report said. Gonzalez said he was waiting for a real estate agent and that the UPS driver just handed him the package, the report said. He later told deputies that someone else paid him to pick up the package, the report said. jmeisel@highlandstoday.com

(863) 386-5834