Suspect sees herself on 6abc, surrenders

April 2, 2008 8:10:05 PM PDT
Surveillance pictures aired on Action News at 11 Tuesday night have led police to one of three suspects accused of identity theft.20-year-old Ryan Amanda Mills of the 5100 block of Knox Street turned herself into Philadelphia Police, telling them that she was the one on the news. Mills is charged with ID Theft, receiving stolen property and related offenses.

Aston police are now looking for the 2 remaining suspects.

One the suspects they say is 27-year-old Starletta Lee Jernigan who was wearing the mink coat in the video. Jernigan stands 5'5", weighing 250 lbs. Her last known address was on Clapier Street in Philadelphia, but her mother lives in Pottstown where she has custody of Jernigan's 5 children. Police believe Jernigan is the leader of these crimes.

The 3rd suspect, a man, has been in contact with the police since the newscast and has made arrangements to speak with them.

The suspects were caught on surveillance video at the Neiman Marcus outlet store in Limerick, Montgomery County.

Police say they were living high on the hog on somebody else's identity, buying all sorts of stuff from a mink coat, designer clothes, and much more. In this case the victim was the wife of an Aston police officer, which raises the question: If it can happen to her, can it happen to you?

In the surveillance video one of the suspects is wearing a $2200 mink coat purchased at Zinman Furs after police say she opened an account using an Aston woman's social security number, date of birth, and address.

The victim didn't know anything about it until, "The (victim) received a phone call from Zinman Furs indicating they were congratulating her on her new account ... and at that point she indicated, she stated she hadn't been at Zinman Furs and didn't open any accounts," explains Det. David Berkeyheiser.

The victim would soon discover her name was used to open accounts at Marshalls, Toys R Us, Boscov's, Neiman Marcus, and a number of other stores.

Police say the thieves were buying up all sorts of stuff. Det. Berkeyheiser tells Action News, "So far, robbed somewhere in the area of $20,000 worth of theft."

Police say things got hot for the woman in the mink coat when she was asked for ID while attempting to buy a $250 pair of designer glasses at Neiman Marcus. Unable to produce any, she ended up paying cash instead.

Adding to the mystery of the thieves identity is that the woman is seen getting into a car, possibly a 1998 Oldsmobile with Pennsylvania tag "GMY 2086" - a tag which is either a duplicate or a fake because police say it comes back to a man in Pittsburgh. That man says he has his tag.

Police say this case is another example of how anyone can fall victim to identity theft. "People need to be real careful about what property they take out with them, being social security cards, any identification they keep on their person if they keep it, make sure it stays on the person," says Berkeyheiser.

If you can identify the remaining suspects call Aston Police at (610) 497-2633.

Please do not let this happen to you. You're allowed to check your credit report for free once a year.

If you are a victim of identity theft...

  • Contact all creditors by phone and in writing
  • Contact your local police
  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission
  • Call the three credit bureaus and have them put a "Fraud Alert/Victim Impact" statement on your credit report
  • Alert all your financial institutions and have them contact you with any unusual activity
  • Change all PIN numbers
  • Keep a log of all your contacts and make copies of any correspondence concerning your case
  • Contact the Social Security Administration's Fraud Hotline
  • Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles to see if anyone has obtained a duplicate of your license

    Below is a list of helpful resources to help you find out if you've been a victim of identity theft and what you can do about it.

    Equifax
    1-800-685-1111
    http://www.equifax.com

    Experian
    1-888-EXPERIAN
    http://www.experian.com/

    Trans Union
    1-800-916-8800
    http://www.transunion.com/


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