Sheriff: Thousands of victims affected by identity theft scheme

Updated: Apr. 20, 2017 at 4:56 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Lubbock County Sheriff Kelly Rowe said his office has discovered a massive identity theft scheme with 14,000 victims.

"Two of our gang intelligence investigators were doing some routine monitoring of inmate phone calls," Rowe said.

Sheriff Rowe said the investigators heard Kevin Gregory Knowles' phone conversation.

He said it became clear to the investigators that Knowles wanted the person on the other end of the phone to get to the jail as soon as possible to recover some electronic devices he had been brought into custody with.

The sheriff said before anyone could pick up Knowles' laptop and other property, investigators spoke with him and gained consent to search his electronics, where they found personal information from thousands and thousands of people from all over the country.

"We've hit around 14,000 individual names and various pieces of identifying information tied to each of those individuals - including addresses, social security numbers and the like," Sheriff Rowe said.

The Lubbock County Sheriff's Office's criminal investigative division, its gang intelligence unit and the secret service are now working together on this expanding investigation.

"We still have more devices to go. This is going to take a significant amount of time," Sheriff Rowe said.

The sheriff said the discovery should come as no surprise to inmates who make phone calls from within the walls of the Lubbock County Detention Center.

"Both parties are given a warning every time they dial up. Where the call is coming from, that it is coming from the Lubbock County Detention Center in this case, and that the call may be recorded," Sheriff Rowe said.

"You would be amazed at some of the things I have heard over the years. Whether it is admission, guilt, where the money is," Sheriff Rowe said.

Or in this case, the electronic devices containing the personal information of at least 14,000 people.

"He's been somewhat cooperative with investigators at this point. He has provided us with some of the equipment he has been using, including credit card embossers," Sheriff Rowe said.

Knowles is currently sitting in the Lubbock County Detention Center awaiting additional charges.

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