Three Floridians are facing charges of identity theft and fraud after they allegedly stole the identities of seven victims of the Surfside condo collapse earlier this year.
30-year-old Betsy Alejandra Cacho-Medina, 34-year-old Kimberly Michelle Johnson, and 38-year-old Rodney Choute were arrested on multiple counts of fraud and identity theft, Reuters reports. The trio have been accused of stealing the identities of at least seven people, five of whom died in the June 24 collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo. The other two, it turns out, survived the collapse.
"Cyber grave robbers did move very quickly after the collapse to grab what they could while family and friends were in absolute emotional turmoil," said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle at a news conference this week. "This investigation has also shown that these individuals appeared to be very skilled identity thieves and professionals. Except for their names, almost nothing else about seemed to be true."
Utilizing the names of seven people who lived at the condo complex, they were able to obtain credit cards and make transactions of up to $50,000 in total. They allegedly used vacant residences as addresses for the delivery of these fraudulent credit cards.
"This is the last thing that anybody involved with Surfside needs right now," Pablo Rodriguez, who lost his mother and grandmother in the tower collapse, told WPLG. "Assuming we are not involved, it’s still devastating. It brings back all of the feelings that you had that day, tarnishes their memories. It starts to weigh on you and kind of erodes some of the good faith out of everybody that did so much good immediately afterwards."