SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - Seven Sacramento residents were busted by federal authorities in an alleged massive mail fraud and identity theft scheme.
Investigators say there are more than 2,000 local victims. One victim was hit twice.
Part of the alleged scheme involved stolen target REDcard numbers.
Prosecutors say the suspects would sometimes spend more than $1,000 at a time at local targets with ripped-off numbers. They allegedly used stolen mail to steal identities and make trouble for thousands of people.
"It's a waste of our time when we're focused on improving society," said Leslie Dedora, whose checks were stolen.
Dedora's Granite Bay non-profit for disabled kids was ripped off.
"I paid a bill and we found out later the company we sent the check to never received the check," she said.
The nearly $2,000 check had been stolen out of a mailbox, altered and cashed, investigators say.
"It's frustrating," she said.
Dedora's just one of 2,200 people from the Sacramento area allegedly victimized by seven Sacramento residents. They were arrested after a year-long mail and identify theft scheme.
The U.S. Attorney's criminal complaint alleges they used numerous stolen account numbers to make purchases at local stores.
Federal prosecutors say the ID theft ring had a long list: a spreadsheet of REDcard numbers. They allegedly used equipment to put stolen numbers on blank credit cards and bought expensive electronics at Target stores.
"I wish they could use their time and effort constructively," said Dedora.
Investigators staked out and eventually served search warrants at the suspects' South Sacramento homes, saying they discovered all the tools of the counterfeiting trade, including a check reader, a telecheck, a magnetic stripe machine, and a credit card embosser.
"They could probably really improve society rather than making things tough and bringing us down," said Dedora.
It wasn't just Dedora's organization that was hit last July. Her mailbox was broken into and $7,000 was taken from her personal bank account.
What should you do if you find out you're a victim? Dedora immediately contacted her bank and in *both* cases the bank returned her money.
If you're a victim of a Target REDcard breach, the answer is unclear. Target didn't respond to multiple inquiries asking what customers should do.
Meanwhile, the suspects face between five and fifteen years in prison.
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