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Florida Man Sentenced for Stealing Identities of 52 Professionals in Cell-Phone Scheme

January 5, 2016

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kathleen Byrne, 215.348.6366, kgbyrne@buckscounty.org

A Florida man who stole the identities of 52 people in a scheme to activate and sell smartphones was sentenced today to serve 11 to 23 months in the Bucks County Correctional Facility.

Jeffrey Francois, 29, of Miami, pleaded guilty to 52 counts of identity theft and 52 counts of conspiracy – one for each victim – before Bucks County Senior Judge John J. Rufe. Both crimes are third-degree felonies.

A second defendant, Daniel Phillipe Destine, 27, pleaded guilty to identical charges in November and is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 9.

Bensalem Township police charged Francois and Destine on June 15, three weeks after discovering them in a room at the Comfort Inn, 2779 Lincoln Highway, with a bag of new iPhone 6 smartphones and paperwork bearing identifying information of the victims. The personal information included names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses and email addresses.

Francois told police in an interview that he purchases other people’s identifying information from someone over the internet, and then uses the information to create and activate cell phone accounts for the new smartphones.  He and Destine told police that they then sell the activated phones, typically for $100 to $200 per phone.

Bucks County Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Byrne, who prosecuted the case, told Judge Rufe that all of the personal information possessed by Francois and Destine belonged to people working as attorneys or chiropractors.

“I’m concerned about the multiplicity of the offenses,” Rufe told Francois.

Francois told the judge that he had come with Destine to Bucks County “to see if I could make a little money” from the scheme, but that police had intervened before he had a chance to sell any phones here.

Byrne told Rufe that Francois had fled after police filed criminal charges in June. He remained a fugitive until Aug. 12, when police in Florida apprehended him with the help of information provided by Destine.

Francois has been held in the Bucks County prison since Aug. 26. The time he already has served will be credited against his sentence, the judge said.

Byrne credited Bensalem police detectives Michael Moretti and Brian Oliverio with doing "a phenomenal job investigating this case. Without the hard work of the Bensalem Township Police Department, this outcome would not have been possible."

Approved for release by Matt Weintraub, Chief of Prosecution.

 

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