Duluth Police have thwarted a major identity theft operation with nearly 6,000 victims and charged a Suwanee woman with theft by receiving, forgery and identity fraud.
Lt. Fran Foster with the Duluth Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division told Duluth Patch on Tuesday that police found numerous financial records including fraudulent federal income tax returns in the Suwanee home of Annette Ford at 4870 Gathering Place while executing a search warrant last Thursday (April 14).
The financial documents were located throughout the house “from the bottom floor to the third floor,” Foster said. A fraudulent income tax refund check Ford had apparently just received was lying on the kitchen table, the detective said. “We found fraudulent income tax returns, as well.” In addition, $172,000 in cash was found in a safe at the home, Foster reported.
Ford was not at home, but turned herself in to Duluth Police that evening, Foster said. A counterfeit check drawn on the account of a Duluth attorney was found in Ford’s back pocket when she was arrested, the detective said.
The Duluth Police Department had been asked by the Social Security Administration to track two checks that had been deposited in Duluth, Foster said. The investigation revealed “a large number of Social Security and income tax refund checks had been run through the account,” she said. Ford, the owner of ePro Tax Service, Foster said, had been filing fraudulent income tax returns and depositing the tax refund checks. ePro Tax Service was not a legitimate company, she said.
The investigation so far has uncovered 5,779 identity fraud victims, and there are more, Foster said. “We are not close to being finished.”
Two U.S. Treasury agents came down from Washington, D.C, and accompanied the Duluth Police Department to the home, Foster said. The Secret Service was also involved, she said.
Ford, 48, a former Duluth resident, was charged with two counts of theft by receiving, two counts of forgery, and one count of financial identity fraud, Foster said. Ford is being held in the Gwinnett County Detention Center.
Foster said that Duluth Police plan to present the case to the Gwinnett County district attorney to seek a grand jury indictment against Ford. The number of counts of theft by taking and identity fraud against Ford could eventually exceed 100, according to Foster.