A St. Louis area man this week was sentenced to 100 months in prison on credit card fraud charges relating to stolen identities he took from discarded mortgage documents, U.S. Attorney James G. Martin reported this week.

 

Jerome Hardene, a/k/a Jeremy Smith, 44, was sentenced to 100 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution of more than $100,000. On May 24, 2004, Hardene pled guilty to one felony count relating to a credit card fraud scheme. He appeared Tuesday for sentencing before Chief U.S. District Judge Carol E. Jackson.

 

According to the facts filed with the court at the time of the plea, Hardene obtained from a local mortgage company discarded loan documents that contained an individual’s name, Social Security number and other personal information.

 

Hardene used that personal information to create a false Missouri drivers license. He then used the identity to fraudulently open a Lowe’s Home Improvement Store instant credit card account, and between March 22 and 24, 2003, he charged and attempted to charge approximately $15,000 in goods at Lowe’s stores in Illinois and Missouri.

 

Hardene would buy items that had previously been picked out by a contractor. Afterwards, the contractor would pay the defendant half of the sales price in cash.

 

Hardene was arrested at a Lowe’s store by Florissant Police Officers on March 24, 2003, after charging $6,000 on the fraudulent credit card. A subsequent search of Hardene’s residence revealed loan documents, false ID cards and ID making equipment.

 

Hardene also used the name and Social Security number of another person to buy a home and apply for several personal, unsecured loans.

 

“Identity theft and credit card fraud schemes are becoming a serious problem in our community. This very stiff sentence sends a clear message that there is a very high price to pay when you get caught committing such frauds,” U.S. Attorney James G. Martin said.

 

***

 

Send news tips or a letter to the editor to opinion@inman.com.

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