Three nabbed in Va. fraud operation; fake IDs turned up on College of Charleston students
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Three Charlottesville residents were charged Tuesday with selling fake IDs to thousands of college students across the country, including in Charleston.
After a search of a home near the University of Virginia, federal authorities charged the three with mail fraud, wire fraud, and fraud and related activity in connection with identification documents.
The defendants are Kelly Erin McPhee and Alan McNeil Jones, both 31, and Mark G. Bernardo, whose age was unavailable. Records at U.S. District Court in Charlottesville do not list an attorney for the three.
An affidavit filed by a Homeland Security agent said an investigation revealed that since early 2011, the defendants mailed more than 4,000 parcels containing high-quality phony driver’s licenses to address at or near colleges. The operation came to light last year when authorities found fake IDs possessed by several students at the College of Charleston.
The affidavit says the defendants manufactured phony driver’s licenses at the home leased by Jones, who also used the alias Joshia Tucker, and conducted their business in cash. Authorities conducted an undercover buy of fake IDs and conducted video surveillance of the house and the local post office where the business maintained a box, the agent wrote.
Investigators executed a search warrant at the home Monday evening and found about $200,000 cash in a safe, as well as “high powered assault rifles” and other firearms in the house, the affidavit says.
McPhee’s initial court appearance is set for this morning. Court records don’t list a date for the other two.