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Peabody man sentenced to 7 years in identity theft case

A Peabody man was sentenced Wednesday to seven years in prison for leading an identity theft ring that used the identities of a Florida company’s employees to make $375,000 in bogus charges at retail stores, federal prosecutors said.

William Dodge, 46, was also sentenced to three years of supervised release, ordered to forfeit criminal proceeds, and pay $375,000 in restitution. In May 2012, Dodge pleaded guilty to credit card fraud, conspiracy to commit credit card fraud, and aggravated identity theft, said US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz in a statement.

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The scheme unfolded when Dodge met with the benefits administrator for the Florida-based company. He obtained from her a list of her co-workers’ names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers, Ortiz said.

Dodge, along with at least five coconspirators, obtained fake identification cards bearing their photos and the stolen identification information. The cards resembled Massachusetts driver’s licenses, according to Ortiz.

With the cards, Dodge and the coconspirators posed as the Florida company’s employees at large retail stores. When they went to pay for merchandise, Dodge or the coconspirators would claim to have left their store credit card at home. They would ask the store to remind them of the number and then they would present the fake license, Ortiz said in the statement.

The stores would often provide the information and complete the transaction. If the victim whose identity had been stolen did not have a credit card account at the store, the identity thief would apply for one, Ortiz said.

The name of the Florida company was not disclosed by authorities.

Dodge and his team would use the credit accounts to purchase gift cards, electronics, and other merchandise they could resell. They would not pay the credit card bills, Ortiz said.

As the ringleader, Dodge directed his coconspirators’ actions and took about 50 percent of their profits.

Jacqueline Tempera can be reached at jacqueline.tempera @globe.com. Follow her on twitter @jacktemp.
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