December 16, 2019
Kellie M. Spawton
The Felony Lane Gang is a nationwide crime ring engaged in the theft and use of stolen bank and identifying information to commit check fraud. The group works by committing “smash and grab” robberies of women’s handbags from vehicles, typically at parks, fitness centers, school events, beaches, and similar establishments. They then use the stolen information to attempt to withdraw money from bank accounts.
The group typically will take the identification and debit card from one handbag, and checks from another handbag. They will use the ID and debit card as identification to cash checks from one victim’s bank against the other victim’s account. The women cashing the checks will wear disguises in order to look similar to the photo on the stolen ID. The perpetrators go to the farthest drive through lane to conduct the transaction in order to avoid scrutiny. This behavior is what led to the FBI naming them the Felony Lane Gang. They typically use rental cars (rented under a different victim’s name/ID) when conducting these transactions.
Recent iterations of this crime show that the perpetrators may deposit the checks in the victim account and receive cash back, thus lending further credibility to the scenario.
- Never leave your handbag/wallet locked in your car where it is at all visible. Preferably, do not lock your handbag/wallet in your vehicle at all.
- Never leave your handbag/wallet unattended or unsecured in a shopping cart.
- Make sure your handbag is zipped closed when shopping, walking in public, or at an event. Make sure your wallet is in a front or inside pocket – one that has a closure if possible.
- Practice Security Awareness, especially at shopping centers, fitness centers, and holiday events. Felony Lane Gang members are known to target these locations. If you see something, say something.
- Check that your vehicle is locked before walking away from it. Some crooks use a “jammer” that may block the signal from your keyless fob, so you may think you locked your car, but you actually did not.
- Wait until you are at your vehicle before unlocking it or opening the rear hatch. Ensure that there is no suspicious activity around your vehicle before approaching.
If it Happens to You:
- Contact the Police and file a report. You may need to contact your vehicle insurer if there is any damage to your vehicle.
- Contact your Bank and credit card companies:
- Request a freeze be put on your accounts, and ask that extra steps be taken to identify you for transactions and information requests.
- Contact the Motor Vehicle Commission for a new Driver’s License.
- Go to http://www.idtheft.gov/ to file an Identity Theft Affidavit and to obtain resources on Identity Theft.
- Change User Names, Passwords, and PINs on your accounts.