Lethbridge Police have charged a male and female in connection with numerous incidents where personal information was collected and used to commit identity fraud.
An investigation by patrols and members of the Economic Crimes Unit determined that more than 30 victims had mail stolen or documents taken from their vehicles in November and December 2018. The stolen mail included tax assessments, pay stubs, cheques, credit card statements, personal letters and pre-authorized credit letters and the property taken from vehicles consisted mostly of insurance and registration documents and wallets. In addition personal details were gathered from social media accounts. With the stolen documents, the subjects were able to obtain names, dates of birth, Social Insurance Numbers, addresses, bank account and credit card information. Online applications were subsequently made and the subjects were successful in obtaining a vehicle, guitar and loan using a digitally altered driver’s license and pay stub. In some cases, the stolen documents were also traded for drugs.
Kyle Anthony Blakely, 28, of Lethbridge, is facing 84 criminal charges including possession of stolen property, uttering a forged document, fraud, false pretenses, make/possess identity documents, possession of undelivered mail, possession of credit card data and more. He is scheduled to appear in court for a bail hearing Feb. 12.
Tammy Judy Yolanta Kotowski, 39, of Lethbridge, is facing 52 criminal charges including, possession of undelivered mail, possession of stolen property, possession of credit card data, make/possess identity documents, fraud and more.
A warrant for Kotowski’s arrest has been issued. Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to call police at 403-328-4444 or Crime Stoppers 1-800-222-8477.
To help prevent identity fraud it’s important for everyone to take precautions and safeguard their documents and personal information.
-Always collect mail in a timely fashion and arrange for someone to pick it up for you when you’re away
-Always shred discarded mail that may contain personal information
-Do not leave insurance and registration information inside your vehicle. If you must, ensure it is placed in the trunk, locked glove box or other location where it cannot be easily obtained
-Ensure social media accounts are not “open.” Use the highest privacy settings\
-Do not use your full name on social media or include your date of birth or other personal details. Consider a pseudonym or nickname for your profile
-Beware of random friend requests from people you do not personally know or associate with
For businesses who could be victimized by identity fraudsters, always require physical documents (not electronic copies) before issuing a loan or products.
Media inquiries may be directed to:
Acting Sgt. Yoan Bernatchez
Economic Crimes Unit
Lethbridge Police Service