Garfield County Sheriff's deputies have made a pair of arrests connected to what authorities say is a growing problem of identity theft in rural areas.
Deputies arrested Christopher James Densmore, 42, of Michigan, on investigation of forgery after he tried to pass a forged check at a truck stop. The sheriff's office said Densmore allegedly obtained employment at the Silverado Boys Ranch, a school for troubled teens near Panguitch, with a fake ID and a teaching certificate under the name Dwayne Ellis Martinez and Eli Martinez.
"When Densmore was arrested, deputies found 50 pounds of documents containing forged-type papers that Densmore allegedly used to perpetrate scams across the country," Garfield County Sheriff's spokeswoman Becki Bronson said in a statement Monday. "He also allegedly bought a car in St. George with a stolen ID."
Densmore was booked into the Garfield County Jail in Panguitch on Feb. 29. Deputies said he is also expected to face charges in Michigan.
On Jan. 25, deputies arrested a woman they said was fleeing to Mexico after stealing identities in Utah County. Allison Paige Nelson, 39, was travelling in convoy with her husband and believed he'd stopped at the home of an elderly couple in Panguitch, Bronson said.
"Nelson reportedly wandered around the couple's home, after which the couple called the sheriff's office," she said in the statement.
Nelson was booked into the Garfield County Jail on investigation of identity theft, possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.
"She posted bail in Garfield County and then ran to Mexico, after which a warrant was issued for her arrest," Bronson said. "Nelson was picked up again in Utah County, after a tip to officers said that she would try to sneak back to Utah County to pick up some of her personal belongings."
Authorities believe Nelson's husband is still in Mexico, Bronson wrote.
Garfield County Sheriff Danny Perkins issued a statement urging all residents to take precautions to guard against identity theft."I have had reported to me several incidents here in Garfield County where identity thieves have targeted the elderly over the phone, and tried to get their Social Security number and personal information," he wrote. "Without exception, I strongly urge you never to give personal information to anyone that contacts you, including by phone or e-mail."