A Burnsville man has been charged with identity theft and theft by swindle after police say he stole the credit-card number of a client while working for a debt-collection company and swindled potential renters and business partners out of thousands of dollars.
Peter Kirt Emmanuel January II, 35, faces one count of identity theft, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. He also faces two counts of theft by swindle, one with a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, and the other with a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
According to the criminal complaint, Burnsville police received a copy of a police report from Santa Barbara, Calif., last September. The victim in the case said she received a phone call from January on March 31, 2010, in which he identified himself as an employee of Transworld Systems, a debt-collection agency.
January told the woman that he was calling about an outstanding $1,900 debt to a dental office, the complaint says, and suggested that she use her Discover card to pay the debt. The woman agreed, and provided January with her credit-card information.
The victim subsequently received a bill from Discover containing three unauthorized charges totaling $507, two from an online travel site and one from a storage facility in Burnsville, the complaint says.
The woman contacted the storage facility and received a copy of the bill, which was in January’s name, according to the complaint. She told police the online travel company was unable to provide her with information about the unauthorized charges.
A Burnsville police investigator contacted Transworld Solutions and spoke with January’s former supervisor, who said the company was aware of the incident and that January no longer worked there.
The Burnsville storage company provided police with a copy of a lease signed by January and a copy of January’s ID card. Police subpoenaed the online travel company, which reported that the e-mail address used to complete the transaction was the same as the one January used on the storage company lease, according to the complaint.
The travel company also told police that January made reservations at a Burnsville hotel using the California victim’s credit-card information.
January was arrested last Sept. 28 and told police that he had written down the victim’s credit-card information so he could use it for her debt. He said he had also written down his girlfriend’s credit-card information so he could pay for a storage unit.
January told police that he accidentally used the wrong credit-card number to pay for the storage unit, and that he didn’t know how the travel website had gotten the victim’s credit-card number.
Last February, two women reported to Burnsville police that they had been looking for a house to rent and had spoken with January, who told them he was buying properties on County Road 5 and that he would have some units to rent.
January told the women that they could rent a unit on Feb. 19, and asked them for a deposit, according to the complaint. The couple filled out an application, and one of the women met January at a Burnsville restaurant on Feb. 13 and gave him a completed lease and a payment toward the deposit, the complaint says.
The woman said she met January at least three more times to give him the rest of the deposit money, which totaled $1,170.
January told the women that they couldn’t move into the property until after Feb. 19, and asked them to meet him on Feb. 22 to get the keys. The women told police that January didn’t show up, and when they called him and threatened to go to the complex and speak to the employees, he told them that if they did that, he wouldn’t rent to them.
When the women spoke to the property manager, they learned that January didn’t own the properties. A real estate agent for the townhomes told police that January had never provided earnest money to buy the properties, which voided a purchase agreement.
January subsequently told police that the reason he didn’t give the women the keys to the townhome was because they didn’t qualify to rent it. He agreed to meet them and refund part of their deposit, but never did so, according to the complaint.
In May, another victim reported to Burnsville police that January had suggested that he and another person go into business flipping houses under the name SJM Enterprises. The victim told police that January offered to get the business set up, because he had experience as a business owner, and asked the other two for money to incorporate in the state of Nevada and purchase a DUNS number from Dun and Bradstreet.
The two victims gave January $7,173. However, subsequent investigations revealed that he had never incorporated the business in Nevada, and that Dun and Bradstreet charges only $40 for a DUNS number.
One of the victims gave police a copy of a Dun and Bradstreet invoice for $2,999, marked “paid in full.” However, Dun and Bradstreet told investigators that the invoice hadn’t been issued by the company.
One of the SJM Enterprises victims told police that January came to his home on May 12 and hit the back of his car with a pipe, denting the car.
When investigators asked January for a current address, he said he didn’t have an “actual physical address,” and that he had been staying with friends in Brooklyn Park and International Falls, though he couldn’t recall the addresses.
January, who was arrested Monday in Ramsey County, remained in the Dakota County Jail Wednesday on a $20,000 bond. He was also wanted on outstanding warrants from Eagan, Rosemount and Hennepin County for various offenses, including DUI and driving after his license had been revoked.