Search for identity theft suspect leads to arrest - WFLA News Channel 8

Search for identity theft suspect leads to arrest

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HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

The search for an identity theft suspect led investigators to a Tampa motel on Thursday night, where they arrested a woman accused of selling names and social security numbers that could be used for tax refund fraud.

Investigators with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office had been looking for 29-year-old Amanda Hunter for two days. They found her at a motel on East Hillsborough Avenue with the help of officers from the Tampa Police Department.

Hunter is facing charges of criminal use of personal information. If convicted, she could face up to 20 years in prison. She also had a drug-related warrant at the time of her arrest.

Deputies say after learning about Hunter, they made two undercover "buys" of identities, twice receiving handwritten pages of 40 names and social security numbers for $900.

Corp. Bruce Crumpler said he determined it was time to track her down because "if she's not selling to us anymore, and even if she is selling to us, she's selling to other people."

News Channel 8 followed Crumpler's team of tax fraud investigators for two days as they looked for Hunter.

Asked by News Channel 8 about the criminal allegations as she arrived in handcuffs at the sheriff's office, Hunter said she was not selling identities. Asked if she knew what the identities are used for, Hunter responded, "I don't know anything. You figure it out."

Crumpler said Hunter admitted her involvement in her interview with deputies.

While suspects filing fake tax returns are often targets of tax fraud investigations, Crumpler said those selling identities keep the crime going.

"If we can go to the next step and find these people who are selling the names and numbers and creating the trouble, or creating the problem, to us it's a big deal," he said. "We shut down a bigger source."

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