PEABODY — A Peabody man has been charged by federal prosecutors with leading a massive identity fraud ring that allegedly used the personal information of dozens of employees of a Florida business, as well as others, to rack up at least $368,000 in fraudulent credit card charges in 30 states.
William Dodge, 45, made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court on Monday, where he agreed to remain held without bail pending a detention hearing on May 6, according to court papers.
The scheme targeted national retail chains, where many consumers either already had existing credit accounts or whose personal information was used to open new accounts, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Dodge and his co-conspirators would go into stores with phony identification cards that looked like driver’s licenses, pretend to have left their store credit card at home and ask to make the charge using the stolen personal details on the “license” to make the purchase, prosecutors allege. If it turned out that the person whose name was being used didn’t have an account, Dodge and his associates would open a new account using the stolen information, according to prosecutors.
They would allegedly purchase gift cards, electronics and other items that had resale value.
Among the stores where the fraud took place was J.C. Penney, Best Buy, The Home Depot, Lowe’s, Kohl’s, Macy’s and T.J. Maxx.
Dodge was first arrested on Dec. 10 by Peabody police, after he and his girlfriend, not identified in court documents, used an identification card bearing the name of a Florida man to obtain credit at the J.C. Penney store, then selected nearly $1,200 worth of items from the Sephora cosmetics section within the store, according to an affidavit.
Peabody police stopped the pair as they drove away from the Northshore Mall, arrested them, and discovered that Dodge was carrying a “novelty” license with his own photo and the Florida man’s information.