Summer is the high season for getting the hell out of South Florida. Hurricanes, mosquito clouds, daily Mars-like temperatures — pick your reason why no one wants to be here in the middle of the year. That seems to be true also for the crews of scammers who originated in Broward and have turned a local crime into a national wave of loosely-linked felonious behavior. Felony Lane Gangs — given that name because they originally committed bank fraud using the far lane of the drive-thru teller at banks, which cops came to call the "felony lane" — have been reportedly hitting metro areas in the middle of the country in the last few months.
As we reported in an exhaustive feature in March — the first deep dive into the origin of this national crime wave — Felony Lane scams started when a couple of enterprising Fort Lauderdale career criminal began jacking IDs and checks out of cars parked in the lots of coffee shops, gyms, day care centers, and other unsuspecting locations.
The crews would then take the stolen IDs and checks to unsuspecting banks, where, disguised as the ID owner with wigs — or by using transvestites or homeless people to pose as the bank customer — they would suck money from the accounts by posing as the victims.
Heat brought down by a Broward County task force in the mid-2000s chased out the local crews or landed the players in federal prison, effectively ending felony lane-style crime in South Florida on an organized level. But this only occasioned one of the stranger aspects of felony lane: the crews just went elsewhere. Now, nearly every month, a Felony Lane scam is reported in the news.
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That's what's been happening this summer. Just last week, law enforcement in Kansas City, Missouri have raised an alarm. According to local news reports, the area has been hit by Felony Laners busting into cars at a community swimming pool.
A few weeks earlier, in late June, police in Little Rock, Arkansas reported a rash of vehicle breaks-in that fit snug with the Felony Lane m.o. "In our jurisdiction, in Little Rock, they've hit probably 10-15 different people," a law enforcement spokesman told a local news crew.
Just so you get a sense of how geographically diverse these scammers are: in April, felony lane break-ins were reported all over the Washington D.C.-area. It's unclear whether any arrests were made in those cases.