August 15, 2013
Philadelphia man charged in $150,000 identity theft scheme
HARRISBURG - Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane today announced the arrest of a Philadelphia man, who allegedly used confidential information in order to fraudulently operate a "rental car business" and steal retail merchandise.
Kane identified the defendant as Michael Taylor, 24, with a last known address of 443 W. Wingohocking Ave., Philadelphia. Taylor is also known as Alexis Scott.
Evidence and testimony regarding the alleged theft was presented to a statewide investigating grand jury, which recommended the criminal charges that were filed yesterday.
According to the grand jury, Taylor engineered an online account and password with Dollar Thrifty Car Rental and Avis/Budget Rental Group. He then allegedly stole confidential identifying information from various businesses and individuals to place more than $100,000 in fraudulent rental reservations from Dollar Thrifty Car Rental and Avis/Budget Rental Group.
In addition to the alleged theft from the rental car business, Taylor allegedly used the personal identifying information of people without their knowledge or consent for retail merchandise from Bloomingdale's Department Store in King of Prussia, Montgomery County.
Agents estimate that Taylor's scheme resulted in losses of at least $150,000 worth of vehicles, merchandise and services.
Taylor, who also allegedly runs an online prostitution/escort service in the South Philly area, was arrested on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013 when he met agents at a pre-determined location after agents responded to an online prostitution ad. He is being held in the Montgomery County Prison in lieu of $50,000 cash bail.
Taylor is charged with the following offenses:
- 145 counts of Theft by Deception,
- 145 counts of Criminal Conspiracy to Theft by Deception,
- 74 counts of Criminal Attempt to Theft by Unlawful Taking,
- 71 counts of Theft by Unlawful Taking,
- three counts of Identity Theft,
- two counts of Corrupt Organizations,
- one count of Dealing in Proceeds of Unlawful Activity, and
- one count of Unlawful Use of a Communication Facility.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 22, 2013.
Kane thanked the United States Secret Service Philadelphia Field Office and the Upper Merion Township Police Department for their assistance with the investigation.
The case will be prosecuted in Montgomery County by Senior Deputy Attorney General Andrew M. Rongaus of the Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigations.
(A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.)
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