Waukesha City Police believe they may have broken up an interstate fraud ring, with three Chicago men facing felony charges in Waukesha County for allegedly trying to purchase phones using false social security numbers.
Kyndall T. Barnes, 21; Tyrone S. Mixon, 22; and Robert L. Robinson, 22, were each charged on Oct. 14 with one count of misappropriating identification information to obtain money.
Robinson, the alleged ringleader, was charged with a second count of misappropriating identification and one count of resisting or obstructing an officer.
According to the criminal complaint:
Waukesha officers were dispatched shortly after 6 p.m. on Oct. 11 to Verizon Wireless, 1200 W. Sunset Drive, after receiving reports of fraud in progress.
A manager met with officers outside the store. He said that two men, later identified as Barnes and Mixon, were attempting to purchase smart phones using false identities. Barnes was allegedly using information belonging to a man from Georgia; Mixon was using a South Carolina man's information.
A third man, Robinson, was sitting in a red van with Illinois plates on the southern side of the store.
Corporate security officers had apparently warned stores two weeks before that a Chicago fraud ring was using social security numbers stolen from a southern hospital to manipulate user accounts. The thieves would apparently use the social security numbers to place themselves as authorized users on victim's phone accounts. Once they were authorized users, they could buy smart phones at discounted rates and sell those phones overseas.
Barnes had allegedly purchased phones in Waukesha nearly a week before pretending to be someone else, but successfully escaped.
Barnes and Mixon were apprehended in the store, but Robinson fled in his vehicle by the time police arrived.
He was found by police over an hour later, soaking wet and shivering violently. Robinson had apparently eluded two officers by swimming across the Fox River. He was arrested after a citizen witness spotted him standing at the corner of MacArthur Court and West St. Paul Ave.
In his vehicle police found a notebook that contained dozens of pages of handwritten notes, detailing people's names, phone numbers and social security numbers. Also found in the vehicle were four iPhone 5C cell phones and four pairs of high-quality headphones.
A special agent from the Secret Service helped interview the men.
Mixon agreed to speak to police but denied any wrongdoing. Barnes and Robinson were more forthcoming.
Barnes told police in a statement that he was paid to purchase phones using the false identities. He said he drove up with Robinson and Barnes that day to visit Verizon stores. He was hesitant to talk about Robinon's role in the thefts, but said he believed Mixon was recruited like himself.
Robinson said in a statement he had obtained the notebook full of social security numbers from a man he 'knows from the neighborhood.' He said that he had been using the information for the past several months to purchase phones fraudulently and would use the Internet to determine the best targets.
A judge set Barnes' and Mixon's cash bail at $10,000 at an initial court appearance on Oct. 14. At an appearance on that same day Robinson's cash bail was set at $20,000.
The men were ordered to have no contact with each other or any Verizon store.
Barnes and Mixon could each face up to six years in prison and $10,000 in fines if convicted. Robinson could face almost 13 years in prison and $30,000 in fines.
All three men are expected to appear at a preliminary hearing on Oct. 24.