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MSP pulls trio over involved in possible iPhone identity theft ring

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WEST MICHIGAN -- The Michigan State Police believe there's an identity theft ring targeting iPhone users across the country, a faction of which was caught making its way through West Michigan.

Troopers accuse a trio from New York of stealing identities and using them to buy iPhone from other people's phone accounts. Now, Rockford's MSP Post is warning those eligible for an upgrade to keep a close eye on their phone accounts.

Police tell FOX 17 News they first found out about the identify theft ring after pulling over a car on US-131 for speeding earlier this month, but noticed something unusual about the passengers.

"I knew something was not right, as this was not your typical traffic stop," said Trooper James Tompkins.

After the suspects told Tompkins conflicting stories along US-131 in Allegan County, the car was searched. Nearly a dozen fake credit cards, forged I.D's, and a handful of smartphones were found, leading investigators to believe that the driver is the organizer of a group of identity thieves.

Here's how investigators believe the scheme works:

The suspects would use information to pose as customers who were eligible for an iPhone upgrade, such as their name and their address. They would enter Apple stores and present themselves as the original cell phone owner. Using the information they had about their victim, they would bypass the general security questions asked by the clerk. When a second form of ID was requested suspects would flash fake credit cards. The new phone would ultimately be charged to the victim's iPhone account.

After suspects left the store, troopers say they would destroy the phony credit card and I.D to clear their tracks.

For every cell phone they get from posing as their victims, police believe they were making $150.

Michigan State Police say they know who the suspects are, but have to gather more evidence before making an arrest.

Police urge the public to watch their cell phone accounts and bills to avoid this happening to them. If you do see an unauthorized charge, contact your carrier immediately.

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