Belle Meade police, the postal inspector, Brentwood police and Metro fraud detectives all team up to crack a major identity theft ring.
According to investigators, the group was stealing mail from mailboxes, even post offices, to get the financial data they needed to create fake IDs and obtain multiple credit cards in the name of unsuspecting victims.
Investigators told News 2 the two ID theft suspects have been in the metro area since Sept. 19, but it wasn’t till mid-October that they were identified and finally arrested.
“They are getting a lot of personal information off the internet and out of the mailbox, ” said investigator Tom Sexton with Belle Meade police.
The men were identified as 40-year-old Dante Wright and 47-year-old Stephen Wilder.
Both Georgia men have now been arrested and both are accused of stealing mail in the middle Tennessee area.
“They are stealing mail from the mailboxes, and in this case, they stopped mail and went to the post office to pick mail up,” said Sexton.
The fraud case broke wide-open Oct. 23, that’s the day both Wright and Wilder are arrested.
Belle Meade police were able to disseminate a picture thanks to an alert from a Belle Meade postal employee who knew Stephen Wilder was not the resident he claimed to be picking up the mail.
Employees snapped a photo that Brentwood police sent to area law enforcement agencies.
Within four hours of that information being disseminated, an off-duty Brentwood cop spotted the suspect vehicle. He called it in to other Brentwood patrol units that swarmed the concord ramp where the car was pulled over.
Brentwood police got the 47-year-old out of the car. After a brief discussion, Wilder was arrested and charged with criminal simulation and identity theft.
A search of his car revealed multiple fake IDs and a room key to a McGavock Pike motel.
That’s where Metro fraud detectives entered the multi-jurisdictional investigation.
They ultimately found wilder’s accomplice, Dante Wright, who was driving an expensive late model Mercedes, one of many luxury cars Brentwood police traced to the 40-year-old.
When police stopped the 40-year-old he ran and reportedly became combative, slightly injuring a metro cop.
When police searched Wright, he had 17 credit cards in his pocket. He admitted to police that he didn’t know any of the people whose names were on the credit cards.
Investigators said when they searched Wilder and Wright’s room, they found a bag with shredded fake licenses. Police say the IDs have many names but all of them had Stephen Wilder’s photo.
In all, police told News 2 there are 31 different IDs from nine states.
“This is the way it should work, it’s a classic example of citizens working with their police departments and other police departments working together to catch a bad guy,” said Sexton.
Wilder is currently in the Williamson County Jail. There is a hold on him now out of metro. Wright bonded out of the Metro jail. He is reportedly wearing an ankle bracelet.
Detectives told News 2 they are currently contacting victims; their banks and this case could go federal.
The number of victims is unknown, as is the amount the duo may have allegedly pilfered.
Citizens are urged to be vigilant and check their credit reports quarterly.