The Polk County Sheriff’s Department has put an end to a state-wide organized cell phone theft conspiracy targeting Walmart and Sam's Club.
PCSO is heavily involved because it has an organized retail crime unit.
According to the affidavits, between April 21, 2016, and March 28, 2017, four suspects working together engaged in a systematic scheme to defraud Walmart and Sam's Club. They stole merchandise (cell phones) and assets, and they are responsible for stealing the identities of 63 victims from 13 different states. There were 169 statewide thefts that impacted 22 Florida counties.
Those arrested were Edouard Fleurant and Carlos Milan, who were each involved in multiple incidents.
Two more suspects have yet to be arrested. Marvin Fleurant is described as being the mastermind in the operation, taking part in 77 incidents and the theft of 149 phones.
His girlfriend Karla Hernandez is also at-large. All four of the suspects are from Okaloosa County.
The group stole and attempted to steal $125,948.14 of merchandise (cell phones) and promotional gift cards from Walmart and Sam's Club.
Of that total amount $64,263.74 was stolen, $59,834.40 was attempted to be stolen, and $1,850.00 was taken as promotional gift cards.
The suspects used fake IDs to enter into fraudulent cell phone contracts using the names of real people whose identities they stole. They then walked out of the stores with the cell phones they acquired through fraud.
They would later return to the store and cancel the service, then sell the phones on the street.
Polk County now wants those who may have purchased a stolen phone to come forward as a witness, and guarantees they will not be charged if they cooperate.
"If you bought one of these phones from one of these folks or their associates, call us," Sheriff Judd said. "You can even call us on the stolen phone. But you'll be a witness instead of a suspect."
Three Polk County stores were victims of these crimes:
- Walmart located at 36205 Hwy 27, in Haines City
- Walmart located at 355 Cypress Gardens Blvd, Winter Haven
- Sam's Club located at 4600 Hwy 98 N, in Lakeland