FBI Busts Identity Theft Scheme, Man Tried to Sell Personal Information of Over 300 People

Used His Position at a Maryland Mortgage Company to Steal Over 300 Folders of Personal Financial Information

BALTIMORE, Maryland (FBI) — U.S. District Judge J. Frederic Motz sentenced Robert Michael Stewart, age 26, of Timonium, Maryland, to 66 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for fraud in connection with identity information (identity theft) and aggravated identity theft in a scheme to sell stolen personal and financial information, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said, "People disclose sensitive personal and financial information every time they apply for mortgage loans and other forms of credit. Law enforcement agencies will continue to be aggressive in catching and punishing criminals who seek to use that information. Under federal law, every identity thief serves at least two years in federal prison in addition to the sentence for the fraud scheme."

According to the plea agreement, Stewart sought to sell 325 folders of personal and financial information of individuals who had previously obtained a mortgage. He gained or had access to this information from his employment at a Pikesville, Maryland mortgage company. In January 2007, Stewart had approximately 200 folders at his residence, which he intended to be sold to others, who would use the information to obtain funds from existing accounts and obtain additional extensions of credit.

On January 4, 2007, Stewart provided a cooperating witness with three “samples” of the mortgage files to sell to buyers. The files included social security numbers, bank account and credit card numbers, copies of driver’s licenses, tax statements, payroll and statement of earnings, and bank account statements. The next day, Stewart negotiated the price of each file, and told the cooperating witness to sell 325 files for $50 each to a buyer who would use the information to commit identity theft.

On January 10, 2007, the individual helped Stewart carry additional files from the mortgage company office to Stewart’s vehicle. The next day, agents observed Stewart load boxes from his residence into his vehicle. Stewart and the cooperating witness moved the boxes from Stewart’s vehicle into the vehicle of the cooperating witness, who paid Stewart $8,000. FBI agents arrested Stewart outside his vehicle and took possession of all the stolen files.

The parties agree that the expected losses from the information in these files would have been at least $500,000 had the files not been recovered by the FBI and had instead been sold to identity thieves.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the Federal Bureau of Investigation for its investigative work. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Tamera Fine, who prosecuted the case, and the United States Attorney’s office in Richmond, Virginia for their assistance in the investigation.