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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Three people are now behind bars, accused of stealing from the Surfside collapse victims.
“I don’t find a more despicable crime than stealing from the dead,” said Sergio Lozano.
His parent’s Gladys and Antonio Lozano were among the 98 victims of the Champlain Tower South collapse and he remembers the night vividly.
“I had dinner with my parents the last night and I was in their apartment three hours before the building collapse. We had a great dinner together, gave my mom kisses goodbye said see you tomorrow kiss my dad goodbye, he said mañana and tomorrow never came,” added Lozano.
And, sadly, in the midst of their mourning his parents became victims of identity fraud.
“On July 3, the day of the wake, is when they started the online banking fraud. They created an online bank account for my mom account,” said Lozano.
Lozano said they quickly began making Zelle transfers. And the crooks didn’t stop there.
“They also request debit cards and ATM cards,” he said.
But the Lozano family isn’t the only Surfside collapse victim who has now also become a victim of identity theft.
“As of today there are seven victims – five are deceased and two are alive and well,” said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.
Fernandez Rundle says they arrested Betty Cacho-Medina, Kimberly Johnson and Rodney Choute for being part of an organized identity theft ring. Officials say in just two days they made 28 attempted transactions.
“Right now, we estimate that these characters who were quick to rob the deceased have successfully stole at least $45,000 and that does not include another $67,000 that we know of today that they tried to steal,” said Fernandez Rundle.
In surveillance video you can see one of the suspects making a fraudulent purchase, while carrying a $1,600 Versace bag she bought days before using a Surfside victim’s account. As for Lozano, he’s happy he’s have been arrested.
“These people should rot in jail because it’s not right stealing from the dead Sergio Lozano- I don’t find a more despicable crime then stealing from the dead.
The three victims face multiple counts of identity theft, organized scheme to defraud, and trafficking in credit cards. They are held on bonds the range that from $400,000 to $1 million.
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