A Harlem man and his girlfriend were arrested after he posted an image of a delicious dinner at a Florida Morton's Steakhouse to Instagram. Fine: Posting the picture to Instagram wasn't the crime (though it might mean he has problems)—it was their involvement in an identity theft ring.
Nathaniel Troy Maye, 44, and Tiwanna Tenise Thomason, 39, of Miramar, Florida, pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated identity thef and possession of unauthorized access devices on Friday. The Instagram photo of steak and macaroni and cheese enabled the feds to break the case. The Smoking Gun noticed this social media angle earlier this year:
As detailed in a U.S. District Court complaint filed yesterday, Maye and Thomason, 39, were unaware that their dinner companion was working as a cooperating witness (CW) for the Internal Revenue Service. During the dinner meeting--which was recorded by IRS agents--Maye, Thomason, and the CW discussed an identity theft scheme.
Maye also reportedly gave the CW a flash drive containing the names, social security numbers, and dates of birth of 46 individuals whose stolen identities could be used for fraudulent purposes. The CW is a convicted felon who is cooperating with federal investigators in a bid for leniency in connection with a pending tax fraud case.
While initially unaware of Maye’s identity, federal agents found his name in the metadata of the flash drive turned over to the CW. IRS Agent Louis Babino then headed to Google and located Maye’s Instagram page, which contained a profile photo of Maye. When shown the profile photo, the CW confirmed that Maye (seen at right) was the man with whom he dined at Morton’s.
When the feds arrested Maye and Thomason, they found two flash drives with 55,000 illegally obtained identities.
The couple faces up to 12 years in prison. Thomason told the judge, "I was foolish, I was stupid."