Macon police announced the arrest of a 26-year-old man Monday in what they described as a huge identity theft operation.
In what was basically a loan scam, Jaydeep Patel gathered personal information on 146 people in the area and used it to open new cards in their names, Lt. David Freeland said.
A lot of it happened online, he said.
Patel netted about $190,000, mostly through ATM withdrawals, Freeland said.
He was seen using these cards at various banks, I think over 56 transactions at banks here in Macon, Freeland said.
Speaking at the Precinct 2 office next to a table covered in plastic bags -- full of seized cash and debit cards -- Freeland said the investigation started in early April when transaction-processing company Incom Direct notified police that Patels business, Houston Grocery at 3472 Houston Ave., was processing unusually large amounts of card transactions.
Police arrested Patel on Thursday and carried out search warrants the same day at Houston Grocery and Patels residence, 5577 Houston Road, according to a police news release.
In cooperation with the U.S. Secret Service and Bibb County Sheriffs Office, officers seized computers, cellphones, credit and debit cards, documents containing much personal information, and $12,000 cash at those locations.
Patel faces 588 counts of fraud and identity theft.
He posted a $49,700 bond and was released from the Bibb County jail just before 5:30 p.m. Monday.
Its thought that he was sending most of the money to India, Freeland said. Freeland said he believes Patel is a U.S. citizen.
Much of the money remains unaccounted for, and a review of the seized information may reveal not only its whereabouts, but links to others involved, Freeland said.
The investigation continues and more arrests are possible, though so far all information points to Patel, he said.
No contact has been made with anyone in India, but the Secret Service is ready to assist if the investigation leads there.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.