NJ couple stole woman’s identity to try to buy $86K Mercedes, authorities say
BAYONNE – A couple from Hudson County was charged with stealing a Nevada woman's identity in order to buy a luxury car.
But they never made it off the lot.
The victim, more than 2,000 miles away, was alerted by a monitoring service about the pending purchase in New Jersey — and police were at the dealership before the ink on the deal could dry.
Cody A. Tyson, 23, and Edina M. Padilla, 25, were arrested back on Jan. 29 at DZ Motors in Rahway as they completed loan paperwork on a $86,848 2015 Mercedes Benz S550.
Moments earlier, the woman whose identity the couple had been using got an alert from LifeLock, a company that offers identity theft protection services for a fee, Acting Attorney General Robert Lougy said Tuesday after a Mercer County grand jury handed up indictments against the pair.
The woman called Rahway police, who descended on the dealership, where they confiscated from Padilla a Maryland driver's license with the Nevada woman's name and Padilla's picture.
Federal officials say more than 100 million Americans every year fall victim to identity theft, which is the nation's fastest growing crime as more and more people participate in online banking and shopping.
Police towed the vehicle the couple had used to get to the dealership, although both claimed not to have the keys, officials said.
The tow operator, in the course of taking a legally authorized inventory of the car, found a 9mm handgun in the center console — which police said was loaded with hollow-nose bullets.
The two will face trial on charges of attempted theft by deception, identity theft, conspiracy and unlawful possession of a weapon, all second-degree crimes; third-degree hindering prosecution; and tampering with physical evidence, obstructing administration of law and possesison of hollow-nose bullets, all fourth-degree crimes.
The two face as many as five to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $150,000.
It was not immediately clear Tuesday whether Tyson or Padilla had an attorney.
Are you a victim?
The Federal Trade Commission offers these warning signs of potential identity theft:
- Bank withdrawals you can’t explain.
- Bills and mail not arriving.
- Merchants refuse your checks.
- Calls from debt collectors about debts that aren’t yours.
- Unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report.
- Bills from medical providers you didn't use.
- Health insurance plan won’t cover you because of a condition you don’t have.
- The IRS claims that you've filed more than one tax return or that you didn't report income for an employer you don't work for.
More information is available at IdentityTheft.gov, where you also can report theft.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-438-1015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.