A 20-year-old Irondale man has been charged in an identity theft scheme involving 41 victims. Hoover Police were first contacted in December by a resident who had his personal information used at a car dealership in Dallas. The suspect was attempting an online purchase of a 2014 BMW valued at $76,000. While this transaction was not completed, it alerted detectives to an address in Irondale and a possible suspect name.
Detectives then began uncovering additional fraudulent activity associated with this suspect and specific addresses linked to him. It was also determined that of the 41 confirmed victims, 39 of them were former patients of a physician who once worked at Trinity Hospital in Birmingham. Those patient records, which were being stored on the Trinity campus, were compromised or stolen. The suspect appeared to have familiarity and possibly access to the Trinity campus through a family member who was employed there as a contractor.
On May 29, Hoover Police Financial Crimes detectives met with the Jefferson County District Attorney’s White Collar Crimes Division. Warrants were issued and the suspect is charged as follows:
Charles Cheeks, 20, Irondale
- 34 Counts of Identity Theft: No bond
Cheeks’ online scam began approximately 14 months ago and included over 500 attempts to make fraudulent purchases with the stolen information. He was successful in purchasing 14 automobiles valued at $561,000.00. Each of the 14 cars was delivered to addresses associated with Cheeks, either in Irondale or Trussville. Those vehicles were delivered from dealerships in Indiana, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Ohio, Georgia and North Carolina. Four of the automobiles have been recovered so far in the Birmingham area.
All of the fraudulent transactions were completed online and via email and fax correspondence. Cheeks frequently posed as a hearing-impaired person, which he used to avoid telephone conversations. He also fraudulently purchased automobile insurance policies and cellular telephones.
The Georgia State Patrol arrested Cheeks around 8 p.m. Saturday night in Thomasville, Georgia. An officer attempted to stop him for speeding but Cheeks fled. After leading the officer on a high-speed pursuit, Cheeks eventually pulled over and surrendered peacefully. He was driving one of the cars stolen during his identity theft spree, a 2014 IS350F Lexus, taken from Oklahoma. He was transported to the Thomas County Jail. He will face theft and other charges related to the pursuit. It is not known at this time when he will return to Jefferson County to face the Hoover charges.
Anyone with additional information concerning Cheeks or the location of vehicles stolen by him should call Hoover Detective Austin Tubb at 444-7602.