Authorities were first notified of possible fraudulent activity on July 9, when the sister of one of the deceased victims contacted Surfside police, officials said. The sister had noticed password changes to the victim’s bank accounts and credit cards, as well as new addresses and contact information.
None of the new addresses were the residences of the identity thieves, officials said. The group was using a series of drop locations, investigators said, adding that is a common tactic used in fraud schemes.
Multiple agencies were involved in the fraud investigation, including Miami-Dade police, Surfside police, Aventura police, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Marshals Service.
Officials are still trying to determine what caused the 40-year-old building to collapse years after initial warnings about serious structural flaws. Debris has been cleared from the site and taken to a warehouse near the Miami International Airport for examination.
Cacho-Medina, Garcia-Media, Choute and Johnson all remained in the Miami-Dade jail on Friday morning. Jail records did not list attorneys who could speak on their behalf.