South Florida authorities under the leadership of the state attorney’s office arrested three people accused of stealing the identities of at least seven victims of the Surfside tragedy.
As confirmed by the prosecution, they are Betsy Alejandra Cacho Medina, 30, Rodney Choute, 38, and Kimberly Michelle Johnson, 34, who was arrested after weeks of investigation.
Two months after the collapse, relatives of the deceased began to report that thieves were taking out credit cards in the name of their loved ones.
Although they managed in some cases to make a purchase and complete the fraud, thanks to a secure email that one of the relatives received, the investigation started.
If convicted, they can facea prison sentence of between 15 and 30 years for the numerous charges of racketeering and repeated identity theft.
Telephone calls recorded during the investigation showed that the thieves were pretending to be victims of the collapse by requesting that the credit cards be sent to a new mailing address.
The fraud committed is of at least $45,000 and they carried out at least 28 bank transactions, the prosecutor in the case indicated.
“It is the re-victimization of victims that we are experiencing with these scammers,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told local press.
The suspects also tried to steal an additional $67,000, but those attempted transactions were rejected by various banking institutions and different stores in malls.
The investigation is ongoing while the suspects are being held in Surfside County Courthouse.
The reason for the collapse remains the subject of a federal and state investigation, although experts have said it could be due to flaws in the building’s structural integrity and design.
This is simply terrible and, above all things, unexcusable.