Twiggs Co. Sheriff’s Office busts major I.D theft ring

Matthew Hamilton and Crystal Watson are facing up to 500 counts of Identity Theft.

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JEFFERSONVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/ WMGT) – Two suspects stealing people’s money are behind bars. The Twiggs County Sheriff’s Office busted an identity theft ring, effecting hundreds of victims.

“Each stack represented a house and the different people that live within a house, but you have more than houses. Some of this are vehicles they broke into,” Twiggs County Sheriff Darren Mitchum said and he showed the mounds of paperwork.

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Hundreds of credit cards, money orders and checkbooks are out of the hands of Matthew Hamilton and Crystal Watson.

“Most of it, that we know of right now, looks as if they were actually taking a lot of it out of people’s mailboxes and out of their vehicles. At this point, we don’t know of any scams they had going on,” he said.

Mitchum says deputies responded to a domestic disturbance call Sunday night at Suburban Inn Hotel, in Jeffersonville. That’s where deputies found the suspects. Hamilton gave deputies a false name, at first.

Mitchum says deputies searched Watson’s vehicle and found over 300 pieces of mail with names and addresses, other than theirs. All of the victims are from Laurens County.

It didn’t stop there. Investigators found more after executing a search warrant for Watson’s home.

“Large bags that are full of everything you see here right now. There’s approximately 500 counts of identity theft and theft by receiving stolen property,” Mitchum said.

He doesn’t have an exact amount they stole. The U.S. Postal Inspector and Federal Government are helping with the investigation and prosecution.

“Once the U.S. Attorney’s Office picks up the case, it’ll go from there as far as the amount of accounts and charges that’s brought,” he said.

According to Mitchum, they can face up to 500 counts of identity theft, receiving stolen property and financial card theft. The U.S. Postal Inspector says they’re notifying the victims.

“Identity theft and scams is all over the place, I think we all know that. I’m just glad I can actually hold somebody accountable for it because it ruins a lot of people’s lives,” Mitchum said.

If you live in Laurens County, you may want to take a look at your bank statements for suspicious activity. The U.S. Postal Inspector says to help protect your identity, regularly check your credit report.

In addition to the 500 possible counts of theft, Hamilton is also facing Obstruction and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Hamilton and Watson can add Possession of Illegal Narcotics to their possible charges, too.

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