Man suspected in multistate identity theft ring

Ian Rodriguez
Ian Rodriguez

State College police arrested a man in connection to what is believed to be a large, multistate identity theft operation.

According to a court affidavit, police arrested Ian Rodriguez, 22, at the Nittany Mall on Sept. 24. Police had been alerted by an employee at the Wireless Made Simple store in the mall that a man had opened up fake accounts at the store and obtained a new phone.

When responding officers requested identification from the man, the affidavit said, he identified himself as Rodriguez, from New York, but presented a wallet with a Connecticut driver’s license with a different name.

Rodriguez was handcuffed, the affidavit said, and a cellphone was taken from him.

Rodriguez had attempted to add services to an existing Verizon Wireless account at the Wireless Made Simple store and purchased a new iPhone, the affidavit said. He attempted to purchase an additional $1,460 of equipment but did not complete the transaction and left the store.

Wireless Made Simple staff alerted workers at the mall’s Verizon Wireless store about Rodriguez, the affidavit said. He then attempted to set up three new lines with new iPhones at the Verizon store with a second account, the affidavit said, but staff there wouldn’t allow the transaction to be completed. He was subsequently apprehended by police.

When questioned, Rodriguez said he was homeless and came to Pennsylvania with another individual called “Smet” to open new lines and obtain new phones at various Verizon stores, the affidavit said. After obtaining a search warrant, officers said they discovered numerous victims’ addresses, phone numbers and Social Security numbers across Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island and Illinois.

Based on the analysis of the phone, it’s believed Rodriguez was part of a larger criminal organization operated in New York, the affidavit said.

Rodriguez was arraigned before District Judge Leslie Dutchcot on Monday, according to court documents. He was charged with 30 counts of identity theft and criminal use of a communication facility. He is awaiting a preliminary hearing.