One of the men arrested in Thursday’s bust was just arraigned yesterday in Nassau County on similar charges. Latique Oates, 19, of 792 South Ocean Ave., Freeport, was arrested by Suffolk police detectives and faces 14 counts related to identity theft, cops said Thursday. Two other men, Rameez Senior, 19, of 194-50 114 Drive, St. Albans and Andre Clayton, 19, of 49 Harrison Ave., Freeport, also face charges in connection with the crimes.
Senior was charged with eight counts of identity theft and will be arraigned with Oates on Friday. Police said Clayton was arraigned in February for his role in the crimes. He faces charges of third-degree grand larceny, third-degree assault, second-degree possession of a skimming device, third-degree possession of personal identification information, petit larceny, and unlawful possession of marijuana.
Police said the men would break into lockers at local gyms and fitness clubs, use a portable skimming device to capture information from debit and credit cards and then photograph personal information from the driver’s licenses of the victims before returning the items to the lockers. “The stolen information would then be loaded onto a fraudulent credit card and purchases were made.”
Investigators were led to the crew after First Precinct Crime Section Sgt. David O’Brien and Officers Joseph Collins and Joseph Russo identified a pattern of larcenies and “identified multiple suspects,” a news release said. The officers shared the information with Fourth Squad detectives who were conducting separate but similar investigations, which commenced in December 2012.
Detectives said the stolen credit card information was loaded onto fraudulent credit cards and used to buy gift cards and make purchases at BJ’s Wholesale Clubs and Home Depot stores across Suffolk County. Police officials in Connecticut and New Jersey are “investigating the possibility” that the three men are responsible for similar crimes in those states, the release said.
On Wednesday, Oates appeared at First District Court in Hempstead, where he was arraigned on a slew of charges. Nassau County police said when Oates was arrested for allegedly stealing an iPhone at the gym on Tuesday, officers found him to be “in possession of six prepaid Visa gift cards, five Costco membership cards and a BJ’s membership card, none in his name.” Detectives said they busted Oates stealing from a locker at XSports Fitness on Old Country Road in East Garden City. “[Oates] would enter the victim’s lockers at various locations and obtain credit card information without removing the credit cards,” a statement from Nassau County police said. He was released without bail after his court appearance on Wednesday.
Investigations into the identity theft ring remain ongoing in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Suffolk police ask anyone with information on the case, or anyone who believes they may have been victimized by the men, to call Suffolk Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.