August 01, 2018

TPSO Busts Several in Identity-Theft Operation

The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office reports that an identity-theft ring has been busted for using stolen credit cards to rack up thousands of dollars in fraudulent purchases. The pack allegedly used credit card information taken from receipts in trash receptacles outside of local loan businesses in the Hammond area. They would obtain credit card numbers, persons(s) personal information and financial information with which they would make fraudulent purchases. 

The investigation began on May 8, 2018 and over forty-five victims have been identified over the course of almost a year. The investigation led detectives to Salvador Lauricella (41) and Miranda Lauricella (37) of  Ponchatoula. Detectives also learned that the Lauricellas' partners included Leah Fontenot (44) of Ponchatoula, Austin Hill (25) of Ponchatoula, Wenzel Fontenot (39) of Ponchatoula, and Brianna Fitzgerald (19) of Holden. 

A search warrant at a residence on North Rateau Road in Ponchatoula located hundreds of financial documents from a local loan company. Detectives then identified another suspect, Even McPherson (28) of Ponchatoula. McPherson was employed as a cashier at a convenience store in Ponchatoula. McPherson reportedly confessed to manually entering credit card numbers which were brought to him by the aforementioned individuals to assist them in making fraudulent purchases at the store.

Over the course of the investigation, all individuals reportedly confessed to entering a criminal conspiracy to commit identity theft and access device fraud. They also identified Wenzel Fontenot as the mastermind behind the operation.

The Office of Attorney General OFI Division was contacted regarding the improper shredding of financial documents at the local loan company.

All have been arrested and charged in connecton wth the criminal activity, with the exception of Miranda Lauricella (37) of Ponchatoula and Bridgette Bryan (30) of Holden, who are wanted by TPSO.

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