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Police Said They Believe Identity Theft Crime Started At Popular Tax Service In Tarrant County

BLUE MOUND (CBSDFW.COM) - Police said they have uncovered an identity theft crime they believe started at a popular tax service company in Blue Mound.

Police said the woman they arrested had access to thousands of tax files from all over North Texas.

They pulled a car over in Blue Mound for expired registration.

Officer Dusty Steele said he pulled a car over in Blue Mound for expired registration and he could tell the driver was nervous.

"I got arrested for switching bar codes at Walmart," said 29-year-old Shelby Sanders.

Sanders and 38-year-old David Smith handed over their ID's but when Steele searched the car, he found more IDs and credit cards.

"I thought it was maybe a car burglary, or a theft or a house burglary, because we see that," said Steele.

Sanders and Smith are in jail in Tarrant County.

There were warrants out for both of them for missing a court date and breaking parole.

Steele said he found as many as a dozen driver's licenses; however, they weren't stolen licenses.

They were real copies, obtained from the state.

There were credit cards, pre-paid debit cards and new merchandise unopened.

Steele said Sanders told them she was able to get all the identity information while she worked as a tax preparer for Jackson Hewitt in McKinney.

Steele then tracked down one of the people whose license they found in the car. He sent a picture of one of the ID's to Stephanie Reed in McKinney, who was confused because she knew she had her license in her bag.

"(He) asked me if I had done my taxes at Jackson Hewitt," Reed said. "I was like, oh no, that's everything. My bank account, my routing number, my kids socials."

Reed said her tax returns were among those Sanders used to obtain credit cards, bank accounts and even legitimate driver's license.

"It was so hard to process, I'm telling you, when I was trying to fill out the police report, I couldn't spell certain things, it was so hard to think," said Reed.

Week's earlier, Reed received a notification that someone had opened a credit account at Apple in her name, and a checking account at CitiBank. She had acted quickly to close both accounts, but after visiting Blue Mound discovered there were more cards in her name.

Steele said Sanders had access to computer records at nine different tax offices and expect there are more victims.

"It could be large, said Chief Randy Baker. "Right now we're at eight and it could be as much as a hundred. Much as 200. We don't know yet."

Sanders had a criminal history that included theft from before she was hired at Jackson Hewitt. Police said this lasted from December of 2017 through April of 2018.

Jackson Hewitt hasn't responded to CBS 11's questions Friday.

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