A fourth Minnesotan has admitted his role in an identity theft scheme that netted the criminals up to $120,000 as they cashed bogus checks in three Upper Midwest states.
Christopher Englin, 28, of Detroit Lakes pleaded guilty on Wednesday in St. Paul to a count of bank fraud conspiracy, two counts of bank fraud, a count of identity theft and two counts of aggravated identity theft.
Englin has seven previous forgery convictions dating to 2003, according to state records.
The others pleaded guilty late last month: Melissa Mae Oquin, 33, of Minneapolis, Malinda Ann Shaw, 25, of Fergus Falls and Nadean Hope Rans, 36, of Shakopee.
State records show previous convictions for Oquin for forgery, mail theft, swindling and credit card fraud, Shaw for theft and Rans for forgery, theft and arson.
According to their plea agreements:
From September 2007 through April 2008, the four plotted to steal mail from 10 to 50 victims and use that information to make false identification cards and fraudulent checks. The fake documents were used to steal cash from banks and other businesses in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin.
Englin and Shaw admitted using laptop computers, printers, scanners, check stock paper and memory cards to produce the false ID cards and checks.
Shaw admitted renting a truck on Jan. 9, 2008, and driving from Fergus Falls to Minneapolis with personal property purchased with money from the scheme. That property was traded for illegal drugs and other items that were shared with her cohorts.
Overall, the operation cost the victims between $70,000 and $120,000, according to investigators.
Sentencing for the four has yet to be scheduled.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482