Five suspects charged with multiple felony counts related to theft and criminal use of personal identity information to net almost $7 million

Florida Department of Law Enforcement assists Sheriff’s Office with investigation

These are the suspects who have been arrested. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office

Following an investigation that began in March 2022, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO), working jointly with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), recently arrested five people on charges of organized scheme to defraud, racketeering, grand theft, and criminal use of personal identification information, the Sheriff’s Office has reported.

The suspects are Sammy David Nelson, 39, and Brittany Alexandria Nelson, 34, both of Margate; Jerome Dale Senior II, 41, of Plantation; Linda Joyce Hugley, 65, of Lauderdale Lakes; and Karlyn Marketa Campbell, 39, of Pompano Beach – all members of what the Sheriff’s office calls the Nelson Group, a news release said.

Sammy and Brittany Nelson face additional charges for money laundering, the release pointed out.

The investigation began after the Sheriff’s Office received reports of identity theft from multiple residents, the Probable Cause Affidavits say. The victims told officers that credit card accounts were opened without their consent at various financial institutions, the release continued.

Sheriff’s Office investigators “confirmed the approval of more than 200 suspicious credit card applications through these financial institutions,” the release noted. “Additionally, the institutions identified several individuals (through multiple groups) who appeared to be conspiring in this scheme,” the release said.

“Investigators determined that the online criminal enterprise primarily operated out of the home of Sammy and Brittany Nelson, who recruited participants for their group from their friends and family,” it added.

Since 2018, this group has used seven fictitious businesses in attempting fraudulent credit card transactions totaling almost $7 million, the release pointed out. The group allegedly netted approximately $2.3 million, the release said.

The investigation uncovered transfers of money through various banking methods, with all of the funds “ultimately deposited into bank accounts belonging to Sammy Nelson,” the release added.

The Probable Cause Affidavits note that the money was moved “by way of account transfer, peer-to-peer,” and through ATM withdrawals as well as in-person withdrawals in bank branches.

Further, the affidavits indicate that the initial focus of the investigation was the period that began on Sept. 8, 2020 and continued through Feb. 23, 2023; 542 fraudulent credit card applications were documented.

The Sheriff’s Office’s Economic Crimes Unit determined that those applications involved personal information from approximately 38 current or part-time residents of Sarasota County and about 355 current or part-time residents of other parts of the state, the affidavits point out.

“FDLE Miami is glad we could assist the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office in their case to arrest this group of deceitful criminals,” Felipe Williams, special agent in charge in the FDLE Miami office, commented in the release. “Our citizens’ identities are unique and fundamental. Anyone who tries to steal or manipulate that freedom in the state of Florida should know that FDLE works with its partners across the state and country to make sure they answer for their crimes,” Williams added.

On behalf of the Sheriff’s Office, the release continued, FDLE Miami agents executed a search warrant for the Nelsons’ residence and vehicles before arresting the couple on Oct. 24. Senior and Campbell were arrested in Plantation the following day on the basis of their alleged participation in the crimes, the release noted. Hugley was arrested on Oct. 31.

Additionally, the release pointed out, the Sheriff’s Office has outstanding warrants for eight other suspects connected to these crimes: Edward A. Bell Jr. of Jacksonville, Joel Curtiss of Plantation, Oshane Malcolm of Miramar, Dujuan Neil of North Miami, Sheldon Neil of Pembroke Park, Jada C. Turnbull of Fort Lauderdale, Livens Toussaint of Hollywood, and Stanley Ulysse of North Lauderdale.

“These are complex cases that require painstaking dedication — to not only decipher but to track, which is why the Sheriff’s Office created an Economic Crimes Unit last year,” Sheriff Kurt A. Hoffman explained in the release. “We appreciate and commend those detectives for their meticulous investigation to bring this group to justice,” he added.