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Hayward Woman Charged In Massive ID Theft Operation

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Mishel Caviness (Oakland Police Department)

Mishel Caviness (Oakland Police Department)

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OAKLAND (CBS SF) – A Hayward woman has been charged with 22 felony counts in connection with a large-scale and sophisticated identity theft operation, law enforcement officials said Monday.

Mishel Caviness-Williams, 40, has been charged with seven counts each of passing forged checks and identity theft; five counts of forging California driver’s licenses; and one count of grand theft.

KCBS’ Bob Melrose Reports:

Williams was arraigned Friday and is scheduled to return to Alameda County Superior Court on Thursday to finalize her legal representation and possibly enter a plea. She’s being held at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin in lieu of $325,000 bail.

Oakland police Officer Ryan Goodfellow said officers who served a search warrant at Williams’ home in Hayward found an elaborate operation that included machines that make false identity cards, credit cards and social security cards. They also found numerous blank checks, he said.

Oakland police spokeswoman Holly Joshi said the identity theft ring is “the biggest in Oakland Police Department history” and involved “a one-stop shop for everything.”

There is only one victim listed in the case so far, but Police Chief Keith Batts said he expects the continuing investigation into the case will unveil “a lot more victims,” saying the charges so far are only “the tip of the iceberg.”

Goodfellow said authorities found identification information on “thousands of people” when they served the search warrant at Williams’ home in the 22000 block of Foothill Boulevard.

He said it appears that most of the potential victims are local but some may be from other states.

Joshi said police hope that Williams’ arrest will protect most of the potential victims whose information was found at the home.

“We prevented thousands of people from (becoming victims of) identity theft,” she said.

Goodfellow said Oakland police, in conjunction with the U.S. Secret Service, began an investigation in late January when a city of Oakland employee told authorities that her checks had been cashed fraudulently.

He said Williams is on permanent disability and has a prior felony conviction for welfare fraud.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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