FRESNO, California. (KGPE) – It’s been five months since Fresno County HEAT detectives busted an identity theft ring at home in southeast Fresno.
The multi-agency operation led to the discovery of stolen cars, credit cards and fake ID’s.
“He was ruining thousands of lives,” said Tony Botti with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office.
In December, Hoover Alford, the owner of the home and suspected ring leader, was arrested. After detectives searched numerous boxes of evidence collected that day, they discovered a database of about 800,000 stolen identities located on some of the computers confiscated.
“You’ll hear of big data breaches through big corporations and stuff like that, it appears he got some of his information from some of those data breaches,” said Botti.
Botti said Hoover is known to law enforcement and is a repeat offender for crimes similar to identity theft. Hoover’s bail was set at around $400,000, but he was released due to the state’s $0 bail order.
“He was able to walk. He would have never have been able to get out at that price and we would have been able to hold him throughout his court proceedings and it would have been great for the community and now we have to wonder, ‘what’s Mr. Alford up to today?’” said Botti.
Security analyst Mike Spicer says more people are spending time online amid the coronavirus pandemic – so more criminals are too. He suggests we should all be hyper-aware of online scams and attacks.
“Misspellings, incorrect information, things just don’t add up, and that’s key – you should avoid that, delete the information, do not open any attachments, and notify the agency,” said Spicer.
Hoover’s next court date is set for Jun. 18.