The multiyear identity theft ring resulted in roughly $9 million in losses to victims across the U.S., including possibly 11 people in Cherokee County, authorities said.
Robert A. Hill, 51, pleaded guilty to working with a ring of identity thieves who fraudulently purchased the goods on credit at large retail stores using the personal information of numerous victims in Georgia.
He pled guilty to charges of interstate transportation of stolen property. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Under his plea, Hill must also forfeit over $44,000 in cash, two bank accounts with over $47,000, a 1999 Lexus RS 300, and thousands of dollars’ worth of electronics equipment and jewelry.
“The Cherokee Sheriff’s Office is committed to aggressively investigating and seeking justice for all citizens of Cherokee County that become victims of identity fraud,” Cherokee County Sheriff Roger Garrison said. “ We are pleased to have partnered with the United States Secret Service and the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Georgia, in this investigation.”
Reginald G. Moore, special agent in charge of the Atlanta field office of the Secret Service, said the case validates the wide-reaching impact of identity theft.
“The Secret Service, in conjunction with our law enforcement partners, will continue to work closely to investigate these types of financial crimes cases,” said Reginald G. Moore, special agent in charge of the United States Secret Service, Atlanta Field Office.
Hill’s sentencing is scheduled for March 14, 2013, at 9:30 a.m. before United States District Judge Richard W. Story.
“This case demonstrates the damage that can be done by criminals who combine identity theft with the power of the Internet to reach beyond state lines,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “The defendant worked with identity thieves who used fake driver’s licenses to get store credit and buy expensive items. He then resold the items from his eBay store to buyers from across the United States, all the while pretending to run an honest business. His crimes leave a wake of individual victims whose good names and credit were abused, in addition to numerous retail victims who suffered millions in lost sales from the scheme.”
According to Yates, for over 10 years through December 2011, Hill operated a scheme out of Roswell that involved shipping stolen merchandise across state lines.
Hill sold the merchandise to buyers across the U.S. through his eBay store, called Atlantis Discount Warehouse LLC.
Hill worked with a group of identity thieves to obtain the merchandise. They bought expensive items, such as iPads, iPods, iPhones, computers, Wii game systems, cameras, golf clubs, and tools from large retail stores, using fraudulent credit cards opened in the names of numerous victims.
The co-conspirators used fake drivers’ licenses to apply for new credit cards and take over existing accounts at the stores. They targeted accounts at Best Buy, Sam’s Club, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, Target, and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Hill then bought the items from his co-conspirators at approximately 60 percent of retail value though he was aware the merchandise had been stolen and obtained by fraud.
“He sometimes gave the thieves lists of items that he needed for his eBay store,” Yates said.
Hill stored the merchandise at a storage facility in Alpharetta and sold items at just under retail value to buyers from around the United States.
As part of the scheme, he shipped items to buyers in numerous states, including California, New York, Florida, New Hampshire, Indiana, Maryland, Colorado, North Carolina, Michigan, Illinois, Washington, Virginia, Utah, and Maine.
During the course of the scheme, Hill sold over $9 million in merchandise through his eBay store.
Search warrants executed at his residence and storage facility uncovered over $44,000 in cash and a large quantity of high-value electronic equipment in boxes ready for sale.
This case is being investigated by special agents of the United States Secret Service and investigators with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office.
Assistant United States Attorneys Stephen H. McClain and Jeffrey Viscomi are prosecuting the case.