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This story probably fits into the category of Stupid Fraudster Tricks. It’s all about 28-year-old Tampa resident Elnetta Denise Brown we think. Authorities believe they have arrested the correct person, and they believe her real name is Elnetta Denise Brown; but since she’s assumed at least 375 identities over the past four years, it’s hard to be certain of anything.
Brown didn’t hold down a job (a real job, anyway) because she kept herself very busy shopping. And shopping. And shopping. When police thoroughly searched the Chevy Ventura minivan Brown was driving located in part because a store clerk remembered the vanity license plate BROWN 3, they found a stash of stolen identity information and 60 credit card applications.
Brown liked to use the telephone as part of her scam. She’d often call a retail store and order merchandise by phone, using a false name and a fraudulently obtained credit card number. She’d later come in to pick up the things she’d ordered and say, Oops, I left my ID at home, but here’s my order number, and the merchants would hand over the goods. Brown would use the credit cards until the identity ran dry. She’d buy just about anything that she could turn around and sell to someone else. It might be a TV set, an oven, a refrigerator, a stereo, or anything. She bought so much, in fact, that she hadn’t had a real job since at least 1996. Authorities were stymied because she changed identities so often.
The break in the case came when Brown, like most crooks, made a really stupid error. She used one of her stolen ID’s credit cards to have a family portrait taken for the holidays. Hillsborough Sheriff’s Detective Skip Pask was then able to get a picture of his perp. Armed with the photo, he went door to door in some of the neighborhoods she’d used as addresses on the various credit applications. A number of residents were able to identify the photo, and Pask was then able to locate the real person behind the swindles.
Elnetta Denise Brown (we think) was arrested and booked into jail on 31 counts of fraudulent use of personal identification, fraudulent use of credit cards and organized fraud. And then she was let out of jail on a $5,000 bond. We wonder who’ll appear before the judge?
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