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Spokane cop falls prey to Russian theft ring

By Jeff Humphrey, KXLY4 Reporter , jeffhu@kxly.com
Published On: Nov 27 2012 08:26:33 PM CST
Russia ID theft ring stolen items
SPOKANE, Wash. -

A Spokane police officer has been victimized by an international theft ring that uses stolen credit card numbers to send electronics to Russia.

Whoever has these stolen credit card numbers is buying stuff online but they don't want the loot shipped directly to their address, so they're hiring local residents to receive the electronic who repackage them and then send them off to Russia.

Craig Hamilton is a K9 officer with the Spokane Police Department and uses dogs to help fight crime, but even Hamilton isn't safe from a clever new form of identity theft.

"A local city officer noticed in his banking account an unauthorized purchase of an iPhone and that's why spearheaded the investigation," Spokane County Sheriff's Deputy Craig Chamberlin said.

Apple refused to tell Hamilton who had used his credit card to buy the phone online, but detectives learned the iPhone 4 had been shipped to a home on East Lyons. The sheriff's investigative task force went to the home and set up a trap using a postal inspector dressed up like a carrier.

"We had a postal inspector do a ruse. Basically went there with a fake package the resident signed an obviously a falsified name, the police officer's name thinking he was receiving one of those packages," Deputy Chamberlin said.

Deputies thought they had found their identity thief until the resident explained he and his girlfriend were being paid $2,000 a month to receive the stolen electronics and then use pre-paid shipping labels to send the unopened valuables to Russia.

"They're not sure who made the purchases, they're just the middleman, signing for these items, taking photos of the items, the invoices, repackaging them and then sending them to Russia," Chamberlin said.

The federal government is now investigating the shipping company that was paying the couple for their middleman duties.

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