A traffic stop in Georgia led authorities to uncover a multi-state identity fraud and theft scheme worth over a hundred thousands of dollars.
Now, a Georgia man considered “the leader” of the scheme is facing years in prison.
On May 12, Kenson Hunte, 39, from Canton, a city about 40 miles north of Atlanta, was sentenced to 34 months in prison after pleading guilty to possession with intent to use five or more false identification documents, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia. He also pleaded guilty to identity theft, according to court documents.
Hunte’s defense attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News on May 16.
It all started on March 6, 2019, when a Georgia State Patrol trooper pulled over Hunte and three other individuals for speeding in Glynn County, in southeast Georgia, according to the release.
Authorities said they found about 44 false driver’s licenses and identification cards from numerous states inside the vehicle.
An investigation revealed that Hunte and other individuals involved in the scheme created fake identification cards to “purchase cell phone and network contracts through a third-party retailer in a Walmart store” in Alabama, court documents obtained by McClatchy News show.
Hunte only paid for a percentage of the cost of the phones up front and would sell them on the black market for a profit, prosecutors said. Another individual involved in the scheme earned commissions from the store and a cut of the earnings from Hunte.
With that scheme, the individuals purchased about 127 phones fraudulently for a total loss amount of $104,347.16 for retailers, court documents state.
As part of the sentencing, Hunte will have to pay that amount back in restitution. From that amount, $60,483 will be paid to AT&T, $12,599.88 will be paid to Verizon and $31,264.28 will be paid to Walmart Global Investigations, court documents show.
After serving his sentence he will be on three years of supervised release, prosecutors said.
The other three defendants pleaded guilty “for their involvement in the scheme and have been sentenced,” according to the news release.