CLEARFIELD — Seven people face charges of engaging in identity theft and communications fraud from inside the Davis County Jail in a scam that has spread to other detention facilities across the country.
The seven are Michael Rivera, Eric Kamahele, Aurora Florez, Frances Nicole Ramirez, Brandie Suiter, Tina Deluna and Nikkol Guajardo, according to a prepared statement from the Clearfield Police Department.
None of them are currently in the Davis County Jail, a jail official said Friday night. Their whereabouts could not be determined.
They face charges of communications fraud, engaging in a pattern of unlawful activity, both second-degree felonies, and identity fraud, a third-degree felony.
The seven, with the help of friends and family members, used stolen identities to set up phone accounts through CenturyLink, according to Clearfield police.
The inmates would then call the fake lines collect from the jail and talk for free, running up a phone bill in the name of the person whose identity was stolen, police said.
The scam was started a year ago by an inmate who is now in federal prison on a life sentence for attempted murder, Davis County Sheriff’s Sgt. Susan Poulsen said Friday night. She did not know the name of that individual.
The inmate started the scam while incarcerated in the Davis County Jail. He had a family member set up a phone account contract, which established an alternate line off the ID-theft victim’s account and had the bills sent to a post office box to avoid detection, said Poulsen.
The phone lines would stay active until the overdue bills reached about $5,000, said Poulsen.
The scam, after originating at the Davis County Jail, has apparently spread to jails nationwide, said Poulsen.
The Davis County Sheriff’s Office has no victims in its jurisdiction, but Clearfield and Layton do, said Poulsen.
There may also still be some people in the area who are unaware they have been victimized, said Poulsen.
Individuals who believe they have been victimized should check their credit reports to determine if there is suspicious activity.