A Canadian family residing in Calgary have been slapped with identity theft, spanning at least 114 fraud charges. Police alleged the family - a couple, two of their children and their daughter-in-law - pocketed $56,000 in the scam that involved Home Depot credit cards.
Constable Tanya Bertulli said the investigation against the suspects was a very complex one because it involved 19 people who were victimised in 43 incidents.
"The fact that it was a family alleged to have all been involved is quite unique . . . And the extra steps (to avoid detection from police), I have not generally seen in any investigation I've done."
Charged were Jennifer Marie Shepherd, 27 years old; Andrew James Shepherd, 32 years old; Carol Lee Shepherd, 52 years old; Darcy Frederick Shepherd, 50 years old; and Sarah Annie Savoie, 30 years old.
Police authorities said the five suspects allegedly stole the personal identification of people from parked vehicles in Calgary, Banff and Invermere, B.C., between March 2012 and October 2013.
They then used the stolen information to apply online for Home Depot credit, Ms Bertulli said.
The credit, at approximately $1,500, was used to purchase Home Depot gift cards from stores in Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Airdrie, Okotoks and Cranbrook, B.C.
They would then sell the fraudulently purchased gift cards through online sites at discounted prices.
But then Home Depot Canada got suspicious and brought the matter to Calgary police.
"These were too-good-to-be-true offers," Ms Bertulli said. "There may have been pressure sales as well. It's possible the individuals felt if they didn't take this deal, it would disappear."
The five face the following charges:
- Jennifer Marie Shepherd - charged with 29 counts of identity fraud, 31 counts of fraud under $5,000, nine counts of laundering proceeds of crime and eight counts of breach of recognizance;
- Andrew James Shepherd - charged with three counts of identity fraud, four counts of fraud under $5,000 and four counts of laundering proceeds of crime;
- Mom Carol Lee Shepherd - charged with four counts of identity fraud, four counts of fraud under $5,000 and two counts of laundering proceeds of crime;
- Dad Darcy Frederick Shepherd - charged with three counts of identity fraud, four counts of fraud under $5,000, and two counts of laundering proceeds of crime;
- Sarah Annie Savoie, Andrew's common-law spouse - charged with seven counts of laundering proceeds of crime.