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Identity fraud ring ensnares police commissioner's cousin, Buffalo firefighter

A cousin of the Buffalo Police commissioner and a Buffalo firefighter were among eight people arrested this week after a state and federal investigation into a $420,000 identity fraud ring.

Cynthia L. Lockwood of Amherst and Robert A. Johnson Jr. of Buffalo were among eight people charged this week in the alleged scheme, according to state police and the Social Security Administration's Office of Inspector General.

Lockwood, 53, is a cousin of Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood, city and police department spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge said in an email Thursday.

Johnson Jr., 33, has been suspended without pay, DeGeorge said.

According to the Erie County District Attorney's Office, Lockwood is accused of using a 12-year-old's identity to obtain about $25,300 in credit.

Prosecutors also said Thursday that Johnson Jr. is accused of using a 12-year-old's identity to obtain about $18,000 in credit, as well as cashing a $12,000 counterfeit check. He was arraigned in Buffalo City Court and released on his own recognizance, according to the District Attorney's Office.

State and federal officials announced the arrests, which followed a 16-month investigation, in a news release on Wednesday.

Lockwood and Johnson Jr. have been accused of purchasing stolen Social Security numbers from Darrius R. Outling of Buffalo, according to authorities.

Outling, 49, has been accused of illegally obtaining the Social Security numbers of juveniles living across the United States and then selling them to seven people, including Lockwood and Johnson Jr. The seven then purchased $420,000 worth of items, including cars, jewelry and appliances using credit obtained using the stolen Social Security numbers.

Some of the victims whose Social Security numbers were stolen were as young as 11 years old, investigators said.

Lockwood was charged with first-degree identity theft and first-degree scheme to defraud. Johnson Jr. faces those charges, as well as third-degree grand larceny and second-degree possession of a forged instrument charges, police said.

Outling was charged with four counts of first-degree identity theft, two counts of first-degree scheme to defraud and one count of second-degree identity theft, police said.

Prosecutors alleged Outling also acquired about $133,000 in credit using various identities, most of which were those of juveniles between ages 11 and 15. He was arraigned and released on his own recognizance.

8 charged in $420K identity fraud ring using children's stolen Social Security numbers

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