Group indicted for $28M cellphone fraud, identity theft scheme

(Source: MGN)
(Source: MGN)(MGN)
Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 5:23 PM EDT
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DETROIT (WNEM) - Seven people were indicted related to a $28 million cellphone fraud scheme that spanned multiple states, U.S. Attorney Dawn N. Ison announced.

The following defendants were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft:

  • Emmanuel Luter, 31, from Atlanta and formerly from Southfield
  • Joseph Ingram, 31, from Atlanta and formerly from Southfield
  • Dalontae Davis, 31, from Sachse, Texas and formerly from Southfield
  • Donnel Taylor, 30, from Southfield
  • Dominique Barnes, 33, from Southfield
  • Delano Bush, 32, from Southfield
  • Joshua Motley, 33, from Detroit

The group of defendants refers to themselves as the ‘Clear Gods’, according to the indictment. They used other people’s personal information to get Apple-branded cellular devices on credit, which were then resold, the indictment states.

The group allegedly bought individuals’ personally identifiable information (PII) from different locations, including dump sites on the internet. The defendants then used the PII to open customer cellular accounts with AT&T, the indictment states.

The defendants would then add themselves or their associates to the account as authorized users to upgrade service lines on cellular accounts.

Through various methods, the members gained unauthorized access to AT&T’s computer systems to create AT&T accounts, add authorized users, and clear fraudulent service line upgrades.

Throughout the scheme, the defendants routinely found and worked with corrupt AT&T store employees, the indictment alleges.

From June 2017 to at least September 2019, the defendants allegedly made more than 26,000 fraudulent transactions, totaling up to a loss of more than $28 million.

“As alleged in the indictment, the defendants engaged in an incredibly sophisticated scheme to defraud, evolving their tactics over time in what was ultimately a failed attempt to evade detection and avoid prosecution,” Ison said. “This indictment is the culmination of significant efforts by multiple law enforcement agencies across multiple jurisdictions. I want to commend all of those involved for their work to unravel this scheme and prosecute those responsible.

“HSI with our law enforcement partners persevered to unravel the sophisticated scheme which ultimately led to this indictment,” said Special Agent in Charge of HSI Detroit Angie Salazar. “These types of crimes are often mislabeled as victimless, which could not be farther from the truth. Oftentimes victims of fraud are required to spend many years clearing up financial issues and fixing incorrect personal identifying information caused solely by the greed of these criminals. HSI will continue to investigate those criminals who seek to exploit the trade, travel, or finance of the United States.”