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Wayne DA files identity theft charges


March 27, 2013

Criminal complaints were filed against Christa Strackbein, Jerry Strackbein and Debra Meszler, all of Honesdale, on March 19. Wayne County District Attorney Janine Edwards said the charges include numerous felony counts of identity theft and access device fraud. The three are accused of stealing identities to obtain credit cards and then fraudulently using said cards for purchases in Wayne and surrounding counties.

According to the Affidavit of Probable Cause, on August 26, 2012 an unknown actor utilized the name, date of birth, and Social Security number of the victim, Daniel Cook of Georgia, and completed an Internet application for a Capital One credit card. This same computer IP address applied for 13 Capital One credit cards using different names, addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth and Social Security numbers.

Cook reported the matter to the Columbia County Georgia Sheriff’s Office and they traced the IP address to a Honesdale residence occupied by Christa Strackbein, and the investigation ultimately implicated the other two suspects.

According to the Affidavit of Probable Cause, Christa’s sister, Debra Meszler, was the one who received the fraudulent credit cards. She would get them sent to her from a male named John Tope, who allegedly resided in Malaysia.

The credit cards would be sent to her at the Terrace Street residence. Tope would then contact Mezler with a list of items that he wanted her to purchase with the credit cards. Christa and/or Jerry would drive Mezler to the stores such as Home Depot to make the requested purchases. They would then use the credit cards to make their own purchases, and also to pay some of their bills.