Cannon to the Wiz is a sophisticated pickpocket and identity theft ring that travels around the country to various large events, often sporting events, to pickpocket and steal the identities of unsuspecting attendees. Based out of Chicago, this group is reputed to have up to 200 members. Smaller cells or teams from the larger group come into town for these well attended events with one intention, to rip people off by stealing their money, their credit cards and ultimately their identities.
I, unfortunately, was a victim of this ring last week. Those of you who read my post last Mon are familiar with my tale of woe. However, when I posted that article I had no idea what I was dealing with. Unfortunately I do now.
Flash back more than a week ago. The Michigan State Police got a tip that Cannon to the Wiz was headed to Michigan to work the Final Four basketball game. The Michigan State Police put out an advisory to the public. Unfortunately, I never saw that advisory or I might not have even taken my purse downtown.
Before the Final Four games an individual was arrested just outside of Ford Field after someone summoned a nearby police officer pointing out an individual who had tried to take a wallet. As I lamented in my last post, I discovered my wallet gone once inside Ford Field on that same night. I still do not know exactly when my wallet was taken but I believe that my initial suspicions were wrong based on what I now know.
On Sunday, after the fact, I found out about the advisory issued by the Michigan State Police. I also read a little bit about the group that was in town, but I was still not convinced that it was related to my case.
On Monday I learned just how good these guys (and girls) are. I knew that they were good enough to get my wallet out of my purse. However, I didn't realize how sophisticated of a level that they were operating on. When I wrote my blog I still wasn't sure who was responsible for the theft of my wallet, I just knew that it had been taken right from my purse which had never left my shoulder.
Monday started out with me sending a copy of my blog to a friend who is a Lieutenant in the Michigan State Police because I had seen his name in the paper as being involved with the investigation. I wanted him to know that my wallet had been stolen just in case it was related to the ring that he was investigating.
Monday night before the Championship game, an astute store clerk at Somerset Mall in suburban Detroit became suspicious of some individuals who were viewing diamond watches. These individuals fled with mall security in pursuit and shortly thereafter their car was pulled over by police in Royal Oak Michigan.
Inside the car police found three males and one female. Also in the car was a scanner, a computer with templates for identification from several different states and 43 credit card gift cards. The four individuals in the car were arrested. A search warant of their hotel room revealed much of the same. Computers, gift cards, you get the idea.
These individuals apparently have this down to a science. They get back to their car with your license and are able to generate a new license with your information and their picture instantly. How scary is that?
The credit card gift cards in the car and hotel were also of interest to me. My debit card was used to purchase the same thing at Walgreens the day before. I'm not suggesting that they were the same gift cards that were purchased with my debit card only that it was the same Modus Operandi.
Later that same night the Michigan State Police viewed the footage from the transaction where my debit was used at Walgreens but it was unclear at that point whether that transaction was related to the ring. It was only several days later when they viewed the footage of a fraudulent transaction at Target that was related to the ring that they realized that it was the same individuals who had used my debit at Walgreens.
I'm glad that the individuals responsible for the theft of my wallet have been apprehended. However, it sends cold chills up my spine to know that they were members of a sophisticated identity theft ring. I guess that I will be looking over my shoulder for a long time to make sure that they don't wreak further havoc with my life.
On a final note, a big THANK YOU to the Michigan State Police for a fantastic piece of police work. Without them having been all over this group from the time that they were warned that they were coming to town, the result would have probably been different. Once again, amazing police work that shut down a frightning ring, at least this time.
Statements made in this post are my own and are not intended to reflect the views, opinions or position of the Michigan Attorney General or the Michigan Department of Attorney General