Federal jury in Florence finds woman guilty of 6 counts related to multi-state impersonation scheme

LATTA, SC (WBTW) — The first criminal jury trial in federal court in Florence since the pandemic began ended this week as a Georgia woman was convicted in a cross-state identity theft case.

Jurors found Quinae Stephens guilty on six counts related to the conspiracy, which also involved her son.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Everett McMillian, who prosecuted the case, said Stephens and his son were caught in a Family Dollar parking lot in Latta.

“In this trial, people came from as far away as California,” McMillian said. “There were casualties in many states, not just South Carolina.”

According to a federal indictment, Latta police responded after witnesses saw Stephens and his son, Deandre Copes, acting suspiciously while transacting at the town’s Family Dollar and a nearby bank, then moving a U-Haul van around the parking lot.

“The defendants withdrew money from a bank card at a bank in Latta, then walked across the parking lot to a Family Dollar, where they attempted to load that money onto another card,” McMillian said.

When an officer arrived, he went through the plates of the box and discovered that it had been reported stolen.

“They then searched the van and found what amounts to a mobile impersonation lab inside,” McMillian said.

He said authorities found a gun, more than two dozen credit and debit cards, most in other people’s names. They also found hardware and software purchased from the dark web that enabled them to print more.

“Both defendants had traveled the East Coast in the weeks leading up to their arrest,” McMillian said. “They came from New Jersey with the intention of moving to Orlando, Florida to rent an Airbnb using someone else’s identity and credit card information.”

In total, McMillian said he stole over $100,000. He expects that number to rise when investigators present their findings at a sentencing hearing in the coming months. He said the case should serve as a warning that crimes committed using the internet leave a digital footprint.

“You may not be caught today or tomorrow, but this paper trail exists for weeks, months or years, and we will seek to hold them accountable,” McMillian said.

Stephens will serve a mandatory two-year sentence for aggravated identity theft. She and Copes, who is on bail after pleading guilty, face up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

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