Federal prosecutors have charged a Philadelphia couple with conspiracy, aggravated identity theft and a host of other violations, after they allegedly stole credit cards, billing statements and other sensitive information from friends, neighbors and bar patrons during a 13-month crime spree that netted more than $119,000.
The scheme outlined in a 24-page court document reads like a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde story. After becoming romantically involved, Jocelyn Kirsch and Edward K. Anderton allegedly pursued a relentless campaign of fraud to fund a lavish lifestyle that included trips to Florida, Paris, Hawaii, and the Caicos Islands. The couple used eBay, PayPal and a vast network of brick-and-mortar banks and sometimes employed masks and wigs to disguise their appearance.
The couple stole personal checks, utility bills and credit card statements from their own friends, sometimes while guests in the friends' homes and in one case by burglarizing their residence. An employee at a Philadelphia real estate firm, Anderton also broke into the lockers of a fitness center in the building where he worked. They also made regular, late-night visits to a bar where they would snatch unattended purses.
The couple proved adept not only at stealing but also in conning their victims, according to the document, which was filed Monday in US District Court in Philadelphia. In some instances, Kirsch and Anderton used stolen cell phones and information to call the victims and concoct a story designed to lull them into a false sense of security so they wouldn't report the cards as missing to the bank. In one case, Anderton posed as a police officer who had recovered her purse and promised to return it the next morning.
At other times, the couple would call their victims and pose as human resources employees of their employers who needed additional information. Anderton even appropriated the personal information of a job applicant to his real estate firm, using information supplied on the application. Anderton and Kirsch could not be reached for comment.
The couple allegedly used the names and identities of their victims to open accounts with eBay, PayPal and would then sell thousands of dollars in merchandise that they obtained with their bogus credit cards. The couple also stole money from unsuspecting eBay buyers by offering merchandise on eBay they never delivered.
They are accused of using more than 16 separate identities. In addition to the $119,381 they successfully obtained, they tried but failed to obtain at least $112,621 in cash and merchandise. To conceal their identities from bank cameras, they wore wigs, masks and dark glasses when making withdrawals. ®