Washington woman charged in ID theft ring

A Washington, D.C. woman has pleaded guilty this week to conspiracy and fraud in connection with a credit card and identity theft ring operating out of Northwest Washington.

The ring charged $89,000 to nearly 200 companies and individuals by stealing mail from residential mailboxes, and credit card receipts from two florists and a medical office.

Dionne Witherspoon, 38, admitted running the ring with a co-conspirator named in court papers only as “RGRM.”

Witherspoon could face up to 121 months in prison and a fine up to $150,000.

The D.C. woman had her co-conspirators obtain the identification and bank account information of victims, then accept delivery of merchandise bought with the proceeds at their homes. The ring also stole credit card receipts and prescriptions from a CVS Pharmacy near Howard University.

The stolen information was used to make transactions on legitimate credit accounts maintained by victims, to open online credit accounts and to tap into pay by phone checking account payments.

The co-conspirators were given a cut of the merchandise, and discounted payments of utility and cell phone bills, as well as the payment of parking tickets.

Kimberly Hatton, 41, Peeair Bassil, 42, and LaKisha Williams, 34, have also been charged in connection with the case.

It’s all to easy for criminals like Witherspoon to steal your mail. But there are steps you can take to prevent becoming a victim.

• Buy and install a locking mailbox.
• Don’t leave bill payment envelopes in your mailbox; take them to the post office.
• Know when your bank and credit card statements arrive in the mail and check them.
• Know your billing cycles and watch for any missing mail.
• Follow up if your expected mail doesn’t come when expected.

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