ATLANTA — Two people from Clayton County have been indicted, along with five former Verizon store employees, on federal charges that they stole people’s identities, opened Verizon accounts, then charged tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of wireless phones and accessories to those accounts.
The alleged scam went on from from about November 2018 through May 2019, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia’s office and court documents.
A grand jury on Aug. 28 returned a 36-count federal indictment against Marchel D. Robinson, 33, of Riverdale and Eric Gamboa, 39, of Conley. Robinson and Gamboa are alleged to have been runners who brought people’s names, addresses, birthdates and Social Security numbers to Verizon store employees in Newnan, Smyrna and Buckhead.
Four of the Verizon employees also named in the indictment allegedly created Verizon accounts in the victims’ names and ran credit checks using the victims’ Social Security numbers. Then, they are alleged to have made tens of thousand of dollars in fraudulent cellphone and accessory purchases. When the accounts went into default, the victims were stuck with the bill.
A fifth Verizon employee was named in a separate 21-count indictment. All face federal charges of conspiracy, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft.
Verizon immediately fired the employees when it discovered the fraud.
“These former employees abused their positions — and numerous unsuspecting victims — by allegedly using stolen identity information to steal thousands of dollars,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “Identity theft remains an all-too-common scourge causing widespread damage. We are targeting the problem through our valued partnerships with federal, state, and local authorities and with private companies.”
Kimberly A. Cheatle, special agent in charge of the United States Secret Service, Atlanta Field Office, added, “This investigation and subsequent indictments demonstrate the Secret Service’s commitment to safeguarding innocent victims, our financial institutions, and our communities. We will continue to collaborate with our law enforcement partners and the United States Attorney’s Office to arrest individuals who steal from unsuspecting victims.”
Others named in the indictment include Edward Bolden Jr., 37, of Newnan, who was the Verizon store’s general manager; Roland C. Newell, 31, of Newnan and Robert A. Woods, 30, of Atlanta, both solutions specialists at Verizon’s Newnan store; and Christian R. James, 36, of Savannah, a solutions specialist at Verizon’s Buckhead store. James C. Miller, 34, of Atlanta, a solutions specialist at Verizon’s Smyrna store, was charged separately.
Verizon spokesperson Kate Jay told the News, “We recognize that the privacy and security of information is of paramount importance to our customers, and there is absolutely no place for this kind of behavior in our business. While we cannot speak to specific customer scenarios or comment on an ongoing investigation, I can assure you that no customer who is determined to be a known victim of fraudulent activity is held responsible for their wireless service charges. As part of our standard practice, we have worked in close coordination with law enforcement, and will continue to do so to ensure justice is served.”
The U.S. Secret Service is investigating the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen H. McClain, chief of the Complex Frauds Section, is prosecuting.
Pak’s office praised Verizon’s Atlanta Corporate Security Investigations Department for providing “valuable assistance to law enforcement through the investigation.”