The United States Secret Service and the Hampton Police Department are trying to apprehend members of an identity-theft ring.
Secret Service agents were in Hampton, Monday, to discuss the recent arrest of one of the suspected members of the “Felony Lane Gang.”
Hampton Police Detective A. Sparks said Jessica Umberger is wanted in 10 police jurisdictions, for allegedly stealing purses from daycare centers and parks.
Umberger, 30, along with her accomplices, allegedly used the identities of her victims, to get cash, or make purchases with credit cards, and checks.
Umberger appeared in Henry County Magistrate Court, Nov. 10, before Judge Robert Godwin. She is charged with two counts of entering an automobile with intent to commit theft or felony, and financial identity fraud. Judge Godwin set her bond at $20,000.
Police said Umberger, of Atlanta, allegedly stole a woman’s purse at the Sunshine Daycare Center, located at 12901 Henderson Drive, in Hampton. The victim was inside the daycare center, Sept. 21, when someone took her purse out of her car, according to police, and within 30 minutes, the suspect was passing some of the victim’s checks in Griffin.
Detective Sparks contacted Bank of America security to inquire about the forged checks, and was told bank security recognized the work of the “Felony Lane Group,” based on the handwriting on the checks.
“We have surveillance video of the female suspect, believed to be using the victim’s debit card and writing checks,” said Detective Sparks.
Umberger was arrested by Atlanta Police Oct. 13, at 3393 Peachtree St., in a stolen, 1996, brown, Jeep Cherokee, according to Sparks. Umberger was taken to the Fulton County Jail and was charged with (auto) theft, by receiving stolen property.
“When she was arrested in Atlanta, she had the Hampton victim’s identification, and several other identifications were located in the vehicle,” said Sparks. “She is part of a group of people that has been named the ‘Felony Lane Group.’ That is the drive-thru banking lane which is the furthest lane from the teller,” he said.
U.S. Secret Service agents informed Sparks the group was out of Miami, and was operating in metro Atlanta. The Hampton detective said the federal agency’s involvement stems from the “Felony Lane Group” reaping more than $170,000 in forged checks and debit card purchases from local banks, including Sun Trust and Bank of America.
“They almost always take purses from cars parked at daycare centers and parks, because those are areas where women leave their purses in their cars,” explained Sparks.
Although Umberger and her accomplices usually used drive-up banking, there were instances where Umberger was captured on security cameras inside a bank, making the counterfeit transactions. Often her stolen identity did not match her physical appearance, according to Sparks.
“If she ever got questioned about her appearance, she would tell them she just changed her hair color, or she just lost weight, or she just had a baby,” said Sparks. “At this point, we are trying to coordinate all of the police agencies with all of the victims.”
Umberger remained in the Henry County Jail at press time Monday.