Shakopee Woman Faces New Fraud Charges in Dakota County
Police say Yer Thao used a resident's identity to open new credit card accounts, stole the cards from the victim's mailbox and used them to buy things.
A Shakopee woman who was charged in February with stealing rent and deposit checks from the Burnsville apartment complex where she worked as a leasing agent is facing new fraud charges in Dakota County.
Yer Thao, 34, is charged with two felonies: identity theft and credit-card fraud, each of which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
According to the criminal complaint, police were alerted Oct. 6 that someone had opened a credit-card account in a Burnsville woman’s name. The woman told police that she didn’t know anything about the fraudulent account until she received a statement from the credit-card company, telling her that she owed $61.75.
The same woman called police again on Oct. 11 and Oct. 20 after discovering that two more credit card accounts had been opened in her name. Between Sept. 24 and Oct. 2, 2011, the culprit – later identified as Thao – completed 19 transactions totaling $1,369 on those cards, four in Burnsville and Lakeville and the rest in Scott County, according to the complaint.
Police investigators found that in addition to the three accounts that had been opened in the victim’s name, someone had tried to open a fourth account, but that application was rejected because the applicant didn’t have enough personal information about the victim to open the account.
On Sept. 24, the same person applied for a Discover card in the Burnsville woman’s name, using her name, address and Social Security number. The card was mailed to the woman’s home and was activated on Oct. 4; five transactions totaling $1,030 were completed on Oct. 4 and 5, using that card.
The victim told police that she had moved into the Burnsville apartment complex in June 2011 and that she suspected that an employee was behind the fraud, since that person would have access to her personal information and her locked mailbox, according to the complaint.
Investigators viewed surveillance video of two of the transactions on one of the fraudulent cards and identified the culprit as Thao, whom authorities knew because of their earlier investigation into thefts from the apartment complex.
Thao subsequently met three times with investigators and admitted stealing a Visa card from the victim’s mailbox and using the card to make seven purchases, the complaint charges. However, Thao denied opening the other two credit-card accounts in the victim’s name and denied making a dozen other transactions on the Visa card.
Thao told police that she was having financial problems and that she stole and used the card out of “desperation” to buy gasoline and groceries, the complaint says. Thao said she threw the card away after using it.
Thao is scheduled to make a first appearance on the latest charges July 2 in Dakota County District Court in Hastings.