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2 Georgia men sentenced for using Dark Web to steal identities of elderly victims

Durrell Tyler and DeShawn Johnson have been sentenced for access device fraud and aggravated identity theft related to their use of stolen identities to open accounts with credit card companies and various retailers.

“Criminals using dark net markets to steal identities wreak havoc on the lives of individuals and compromise the financial security of victims,” said U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine. “While law enforcement is focused on investigating and prosecuting these individuals, citizens are reminded to be vigilant with their personal identifiable information.”

“These defendants motivated by greed targeted our most vulnerable population by seeking the identities of older individuals to violate their personal and financial well-being,” said Tommy D. Coke, Inspector in Charge of the Atlanta Division. “Postal Inspectors and our law enforcement partners will continue to work every day to protect our elderly neighbors from financial exploitation.”

“Those who operate in the shadows will be exposed to the light of justice,” said U.S. Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Steven R. Baisel. “Deplorable felons who purposely prey on elderly victims are among the worst criminals there are. We will work tirelessly to pull them from their hiding places.”

According to U.S. Attorney Erskine, the charges, and other information presented in court: Durrell Tyler and DeShawn Johnson purchased personal identifiable information (PII) from dark net markets and used the information to open credit accounts using the victims’ information. They then forwarded the phone lines, mailing addresses, and the emails of their victims to their control. This allowed Tyler and Johnson to impersonate victims with creditors and prevented victims from learning about the fraud.

Law enforcement began investigating Tyler after discovering that he attempted to forward the phone number of an elderly couple in Georgia who had been murdered. Search warrants at multiple homes in the Atlanta area used by Tyler and Johnson revealed the scope of their fraud. Law enforcement found mail for victims, fraudulent driver’s licenses in the name of elderly victims with Tyler’s picture, and PII for dozens of victims listed in phones, email accounts, and a handwritten notebook. Tyler and Johnson were each held accountable for more than $130,000 in actual and intended loss suffered by more than 75 victims around the United States. Targets of their scheme included elderly men and women who were repeat victims of identity theft.

The defendants have been sentenced by U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones as follows:

  • Durrell Tyler, 29, of Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced to three years, ten months in prison for access device fraud, to be followed by two consecutive years imprisonment for aggravated identity theft.  He was also sentenced to serve three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $108,397.55.  Tyler was convicted on these charges on May 14, 2021, after he pleaded guilty.
  • DeShawn Johnson, 30, of Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced to one year, six months in prison for access device fraud, to be followed by two consecutive years imprisonment for aggravated identity theft.  He was also sentenced to serve three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $66,097.55.  Johnson was convicted on these charges on September 9, 2021, after he pleaded guilty.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and U.S. Secret Service.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicholas Hartigan, Tiffany Dillingham, and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Jolee Porter prosecuted the case.

This is a press release from the US Department of Justice.

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