3 men wanted in S Phila. $100K ID theft

July 11, 2012 3:35:25 PM PDT
Philadelphia police are looking for the three men who stole the identities of multiple people and made fraudulent purchases in excess of $100,000.

Surveillance videos show the suspects at work inside the Home Depot on 23rd Street and Oregon Avenue in South Philadelphia buying thousands of dollars worth of building supplies.

They even have a child with them as they loaded up the merchandise in a white extended cab pickup truck with ladder racks on top.

To make that major purchase, they were using a credit card in Joseph Gajewski's name.

"I hope the police catch them before I do," Gajewski told Action News Wednesday.

68-year-old Joseph Gajewski was a Philadelphia officer for 36 years and now the victim of identity theft.

In March, he received a call from a bank asking if he'd opened a Home Depot account.

Of course, he hadn't, but the suspects were already at work racking up charges on credit cards in his name all around the region - at Lowes, Macy's, Target, and Home Depot.

Gajewski never imagined he would become a victim of such fraud.

"I am very careful how I give out my information. I only have two credit cards and on the back of each of them I put photo ID required," Gajewski said.

Police believe these same men are part of a ring behind other identity theft cases around the region between January and May of this year including $30,000 in purchases in Whitemarsh Township and $50,000 in Lancaster County.

Gajewski wasn't out any money in the end, but he did spend hours, if not days, checking on his credit report and closing the fraudulent accounts.

He hopes someone recognizes these men before more unsuspecting people become victims.

"I feel like I was one of the lucky ones because I caught it in time. I can imagine an older person and they don't catch it for a month, maybe two months. I know what they have to go through," Gajewski said.

Police are not sure how the suspects are obtaining the information needed to apply for the fraudulent credit cards.

The first man is described by police as a black male, 40 to 50-years-old, standing approximately 5'10", weighing 190 pounds, with a beard, and wearing glasses, a white shirt with blue stripes, tan pants and dark colored shoes.

The second suspect was wearing a tan hat, glasses, a dark colored jacket, dark colored pants and dark colored shoes. His race is unknown.

The third suspect is an Asian male with black hair and was wearing a gray zip-up hooded sweatshirt.

If you have any information about the crime or the identity of these suspects, you are urged to contact police by dialing 215-686-3013/3014. To submit a tip anonymously by telephone, dial 215.686.TIPS (8477) or text a tip to PPD TIP or 773847.


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