Ronald Rhoda was a frustrating figure who slipped around the edges of our investigation earlier this year into Felony Lane gangs from South Florida
. Our story opened in 2013 with a series of car break-ins in the Seattle and Tacoma, Washington, area: Women dropping their children off at daycare centers were the targets of a hustling group of ID thieves. After months of police work, law enforcement eventually linked the crimes back to Rhoda, a career criminal with ties to Broward. But by the time Rhoda's name turned up in the investigation, he was already thousands of miles away, in custody in Williamsburg, Virginia, for running the same scam.
Now, Rhoda has recently been indicted by a federal grand jury in Maryland. Federal authorities have been able to thread together years of his activity, a sign that law enforcement is beginning to learn how to track down the Felony Lane crews that are regularly hitting all the over country.
The Maryland indictment against Rhoda bangs him for alleged conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, and aiding and abetting. Large chunks of the document are blacked out, including the considerable list of codefendants
named by authorities as well. Still, however, you get a sense of the scams Rhoda was running between September 2012 and July 2015 — hustling that netted Rhoda and his minions more than $1 million from dozens of banks.
The indictment lays out the textbook Felony Lane scam Rhoda quarterbacked. The scammer and his unidentified codefendants
"traveled by vehicles from Florida to other states, including Maryland, where they broke into unattended vehicles parked at recreation areas, dog parks, sports fields, gyms and fitness centers, and other similar areas and stole the wallets, purses, and other items which had been left in vehicles."
Rhoda and his people then allegedly "recruited prostitutes, drug addicts, and other homeless and vulnerable individuals to travel with them to conduct financial transactions" with stolen checks and IDs.
In an interesting twist on the whole
thing, federal authorities say that Rhoda and his crew would bury stolen IDs, credit cards, and checks, leave an area, then dig the items back up when they swung back through.
In total, law enforcement say
Rhoda and his team allegedly victimized hundreds of people.