‘Cyber Grave Robbers’ Accused of Stealing Identities of Surfside Condo Victims – The New York Times

Three people were charged with pilfering tens of thousands of dollars by obtaining credit in the names of seven residents of the Florida condo that collapsed.

MIAMI — In the dark days following the Champlain Towers South condominium collapse in Surfside, Fla., the sister of Ana Ortiz, who died in the tragedy, noticed strange financial activity in Ms. Ortiz’s accounts.

A notification that Ms. Ortiz’s mailing address had been changed. Requests for replacement credit cards to be mailed to a new address. Unauthorized wire transfers. Purchases charged to her cards.

The sister, Nicole Ortiz, notified the police. It was July 9, barely two weeks after the June 24 collapse — and the day of Ana Ortiz’s funeral.

The results of the investigation, which grew to involve several local and federal law enforcement agencies, were revealed on Wednesday, when prosecutors in Miami-Dade County announced that they had charged three people for stealing the identities of at least seven Champlain Towers residents. Five of them, including Ms. Ortiz, had been killed in the June 24 collapse. Two had survived.

The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office announced  details “about the arrests made in the identity theft cases which targeted victims in the collapse of the Champlain Tower South Condominium.”

Those arrested include Betsy Alexandra Cacho Medina, 30, Rodney Choute, 38, and Kimberly Michelle Johnson, 34, the Miami Herald first reported prior to the press conference, citing law enforcement sources. Charges includes organized scheme to defraud and several counts of identity fraud.

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The trio allegedly commandeered the identities of at least five Surfside victims, three dead and two survivors, according to the Herald, to open credit cards and make fraudulent purchases.

Source: ‘Cyber Grave Robbers’ Accused of Stealing Identities of Surfside Condo Victims – The New York Times