Jumoke Williams of Lauderhill, Florida was arrested after authorities accused him of committing fraud at at least six local businesses, according to news reports. Williams, 24, was charged with multiple offenses, including organized scheme to defraud, credit card fraud, grand theft, and criminal use of personal identification information. He was reportedly booked into Broward County Jail on the charges. Sources indicate that Willaims may be hit with additional charges as a result of the investigation into his allegedly fraudulent activity, which is not yet complete. It is not clear whether he has qualified for bail bond or has retained a private criminal defense lawyer.
According to news reports, Williams was arrested after a three-month investigation conducted by the U.S. Secret Service, the Broward Sherriff’s Office’s Organized Retail Crime unit, and loss prevention departments of several local businesses. The investigation reportedly launched after loss prevention workers at the Home Depot discovered a string of fraudulent orders that were supposed to be picked up at a South Florida location. The Home Depot loss prevention team reportedly discovered the fraud when they flagged online orders and contacted the credit card holders for confirmation, only to find that the credit card holders had never placed the orders.
It is unclear from press reports how investigators were able to connect the fraudulent activity to Williams, although he may have been identified through surveillance at the Home Depot when the allegedly fraudulant materials were picked up. In any case, the subsequent investigation purportedly revealed that Williams had been habitually defrauding local businesses for an indefinite period of time. He allegedly accomplished this by using fraudulently obtained credit card and other information to place online orders, then arranging to receive the goods. He would then allegedly sell the merchandise on the street or at local pawn shops. The fraudulently obtained merchandise reportedly included expensive items such as generators and even computers.
Willims is reportedly accused of making at least 15 fraudulent purchases at six area businesses during the time that the investigation was conducted. These purchases were made using at least 12 fraudulently obtained credit cards and five different aliases, investigators allege. Near the end of the investigation, detectives reportedly required a search warrant for Williams’ home, during which they allegedly discovered gift cards along with allegedly fraudulently obtained credit cards, personal identification, and tax information. Authorities have not leleased an estimate of what they believe the cost of everything that Williams allegedly fraudlently obtained may be.
It is not clear exactly how many potential victims’ information was repossessed. There is also no indication of how Williams allegedly was able to acquire the information. If an informant or accomplice was involved, investigators will likely be looking to make another arrest shortly.
It is not clear how long authorities suspect Williams had been defrauding businesses, nor is it clear how much the financial repurcussions resulting from the alleged fraudulent activity may be. However, fraudulent activity is a tremendously costly problem for retail stores in the United States. The National Retail Federation has estimated that retail fraud costs retailors $30 billion a year in losses. $106 million of that loss is reportedly absorbed by Florida as lost tax revenue.