Monday, August 13, 2012

Police: ID thieves who tried to trick cops busted

Posted By on Mon, Aug 13, 2012 at 2:08 PM

AFLAC SCAM SUSPECTS: (LEFT) Dawnetta Underwood and Cinita Pedone-Allou
In an identity heist scheme worthy of the big screen, two women are facing multiple counts of identity theft and racketeering after allegedly soliciting personal information from more than three dozen Atlanta Police, MARTA Police, and Atlanta fire department employees.

Under the guise of AFLAC insurance representatives, Cinita Pedone-Allou, 30, and Dawnetta Underwood, 23, allegedly visited numerous Atlanta police precincts, mini precincts, MARTA Police substations, and Atlanta fire stations over the course of several days offering expanded insurance and enhanced benefit packages.

“Obviously it’s pretty bold to go into a police precinct and target police officers for this,” APD Sgt. Paul Cooper said. “Anybody can be fooled, and this is a good example. If they can get us they can get anybody.”

According to police, the suspects told officials the city was changing insurance plan options and asked several officers and supervisors to provide personal information about themselves, employees, and their families.

The actions were so brazen it would have drawn attention to Frank Abagnale, Jr. himself. The women would address entire shifts of police officers, explaining the faulty benefit packages.

“The officers said they used enough of our internal terminology to make it sound legitimate,” Cooper said. “Through our own investigation we determined they were not authorized by the city or by any of our insurance providers to be there soliciting any of the information.”

Ultimately, inconsistencies in their procedures and a lack of in-depth knowledge about the benefit packages raised some red flags. While the ladies visited a Zone 1 precinct, a police lieutenant noticed variations from normal city procedures and began to question the women, eventually ejecting them from the office.

But here’s the real Hollywood plot twist:

The women actually worked for Employee Benefits, a legitimate company that claimed to be an independent AFLAC agent, according to police, and even handed out business cards on their visits. But officials still believed the women’s actions were fraudulent, and said AFLAC had no record of the company as an authorized seller.

After obtaining the women’s cell phone numbers from the suspects’ supervisor in Maryland (remember the business cards?) both women were arrested. Pedone-Allou turned over the documents at police headquarters, and the second suspect was later located at a hotel near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

So far, 39 information packets have been recovered. Police said the women visited every APD precinct, and possibly made other trips to target city employees in the past.

“We believe we’ve gotten everything they’ve gathered on this particular trip,” Cooper said.

Atlanta Police and Homeland Security are still investigating.

AFLAC duck
  • Oldmaison/Flickr

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