An investigation by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and the Tallahassee Police Department resulted in recent identity theft charges against Gerald Howard Washington of Pensacola.
Washington (DOB 8/25/96) was charged with one count of Criminal Use of Personal Identification Information (20 or more), a first-degree felony, and one count of Organized Communications Fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, after stealing personal information from multiple job seekers in Tallahassee.
Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Jesse Panuccio said, “DEO is committee to being a national leader in fighting fraud. Identity theft is a national crisis, and it harms both the individuals whose identities are stolen and the financial systems that are left defrauded. Criminals need to understand that if you commit fraud anywhere in the DEO system, we will find you, and you will be prosecuted.”
Tallahassee Police Department Chief Michael DeLeo said, “Mr. Washington used the hope of would-be job seekers against them. His victims were Tallahassee citizens seeking to better themselves and their families. Those who seek to commit fraud in Tallahassee will be investigated and prosecuted for their actions.”
The investigation showed that Washington posted online advertisements claiming to be hiring for 1,100 positions in Tallahassee. He traveled by Greyhound Bus from Pensacola to Tallahassee, set up a temporary office, and personally met with many job seekers who believed he was a valid employer with actual job openings.
The job seekers provided personal information, including Social Security numbers and bank information, for the application. They also provided urine samples and a $25 fee. The individuals were told they were hired and given a start date, but the jobs did not exist.