MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Two suspects were arrested after being accused of stealing at least $500,000 from AT&T customers.
Brandon Danley and Taryn Watson were charged with identity theft and theft of merchandise greater than $250,000 after they were booked into jail last week.
According to police records, the elaborate scheme involved calling AT&T call centers and impersonating AT&T employees. After receiving customer information, they would call AT&T customer service and request the victims’ cell phone numbers be sent to another call service provider.
Once switched over, the pair had control over the phone numbers and would gain access to the victims’ money apps, such as Cash App, PayPal and Venmo. They would then send money to their bank accounts.
“This is a really unusual type of identity theft,” said Nancy Crawford, the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South.
Crawford believes one of those victims is a Mid-South woman who reported a similar issue with AT&T last week. She says this kind of scam is harder to detect because scammers usually create a new account.
“This is existing account takeover and it’s a little harder to identify when this happens,” Crawford said.
On February 10, police executed a search warrant at Danley and Watson’s home, finding evidence that suggested they were responsible for the thefts, police said. Despite being the subjects of a police investigation, authorities said the pair continued to make the calls to AT&T, victimizing at least nine more people.
In all, police said the pair have stolen $500,000 from 69 individuals. That number is expected to grow as Danley reportedly put in over $1 million in cash at Southland Casino in West Memphis since January 2020. Neither suspects has any employment history.
We reached out to AT&T, but they referred us to local law enforcement. Detectives say expect to find more victims as the investigation goes on