Authorities: ID theft, fraud victims lost $100,000; arrest made in Monument

By: lisa walton lisa.walton@gazette,cin
July 1, 2014 Updated: July 2, 2014 at 10:40 am
photo - Eriec Rodriguez-Morales
Eriec Rodriguez-Morales 

A months-long multi-agency investigation into a fraud case involving at least 50 Front Range victims led to the arrest of a 24-year-old man Tuesday, Monument police said.

Geider Morales, 24, was arrested on suspicion of identity theft, money laundering, forgery, computer crimes and theft, authorities said.

The joint investigation by the Monument Police Department, the El Paso County Sheriff's Office and the Colorado Springs Police Department began in March and identified two other suspects who are still at-large, authorities said.

Morales, 21-year-old Kimberly Danais Navas and 33-year-old Eriec Rodriguez-Moralesare suspected of using stolen personal and financial information to make purchases at several retail stores, said Monument police Lt. Steve Burk.

Authorities tracked the fraudulent activities as far south as Pueblo and as far north as Denver.

About $100,000 was stolen from individuals, businesses and banks, he said.

"The average citizen is a victim. ...You also have the retailer," Burk said. "A lot of times, the merchandise is gone, but a stop (payment) is in place, so the retailer doesn't get their money."

Banks that reimburse their customers for unauthorized purchases also lose money, he said.

On Tuesday morning, SWAT teams served arrest warrants at two homes in Monument, including one in the 17000 block of Crestview Court and another in the 15000 block of James Gate Place, police said,

Authorities did not specify which of the two homes Morales was in, but said that eight people were contacted in both. No other suspects were taken into custody.

To protect the investigation, Burk would not say how the victims were targeted or how their information was obtained.

However, he said the best way to avoid becoming a victim of fraud is to "keep your information close to your chest."

"Don't leave it out where people can find it," he said. "Routinely check your banking accounts online, and compare that to the purchases you and your family have made. We all can get busy and overlook those things, but they're important."

People with more information are asked to call their local law enforcement agency. Monument police can be reached at 481-3253; Colorado Springs police at 444-7000; and the El Paso County Sheriff's Department at 390-5555.

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