Traffic stop helps Charlotte police blow open ring of fake credit cards and bogus IDs

A random traffic stop last month has provided a glimpse into an identity-theft ring in Charlotte that police say has claimed victims across the Carolinas and as far away as California.

“The victims are everywhere,” said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Detective Jeff King, who specializes in financial fraud cases.

Police got a break in the case on Feb. 20 when a state trooper made a routine traffic stop of Alexsandera Mobley, a 27-year-old Charlotte resident with a lengthy criminal history.

According to a search warrant released Tuesday, a check of Mobley’s car uncovered nine phony driver’s licenses and 15 credit cards bearing other people’s information. Police charged Mobley with identity theft, trafficking in stolen identities and criminal possession of a financial transaction card device.

Last Friday, Mobley was pulled over again. This time, CMPD officers found fraudulent licenses and credit cards tucked into the driver’s door pocket. The phony documents featured the same photographs as the first batch, according to the King’s affidavit, which accompanied the search warrant.

The resulting Friday search of Mobley’s apartment in northwest Charlotte uncovered numerous pages of cell phone contracts and credit reports belonging to other people, the affidavit says.

On Tuesday, King also confirmed that Mobley’s apartment on Pearl Street had been rented under a California woman’s name. When King called the woman, she said she had never heard of Mobley, had not rented the apartment and had not allowed her personal information to be used.

Identity theft and credit card fraud have become one of the world’s most chronic financial crimes. Federal officials say more than 17.5 million Americans were victimized in 2014, with a total loss of $15.4 billion.

Thieves use a variety of techniques – from watching customers enter their PIN numbers at grocery stores, going through someone’s mail or garbage or using sophisticated detection devices to extract credit card numbers from wallets and purses.

King refused to say how the Charlotte ring steals its information. He did say that investigators believe Mobley was part of a ring that “involves a lot of different people.”

A check of Mecklenburg jail records indicates that Mobley has been arrested at least eight times. The charges range from traffic violations, communicating threats and resisting arrest, to robbery with a dangerous weapon, shoplifting and trespassing.

Michael Gordon: 704-358-5095, @MikeGordonOBS