Windstream worker now behind bars for package theft scheme; used customers names | Crime
SALISBURY - Walter Darnell Austin turned himself in at the Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday and was served with warrants for Felony Identity Theft and placed in jail under a $10,000 Secured Bond.
Additional warrants have been obtained by the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office and warrants have been obtained by the Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office that will be served later.
Investigators say Austin, an employee of telecommunications company Windstream, was charged as the result of an investigation into a mail order package theft scheme.
This is a summary of the case provided to WBTV by the Sheriff's Office:
On Monday January 23, 2012 the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division received information from a concerned neighbor that packages were being delivered to an abandoned house on Millbridge Road near China Grove by commercial package delivery service.
Investigators with the Sheriff’s Office and China Grove Police Department began surveillance at the residence and discovered two packages had been delivered to the residence.
After a short time a subject in a Windstream service van arrived and investigators watched the subject grab the packages and run back to the Windstream van and attempt to leave. Investigators made a vehicle stop to determine the purpose of the clandestine package delivery to an unoccupied house.
Investigators discovered the driver Walter Darnell Austin worked for Windstream and wasn’t the name on the packages.
During the course of the investigation detectives discovered Walter Darnell Austin; 45 year old white male of 75 Brackenberry Circle, Mt. Pleasant NC had obtained numerous person’s name through his employment with Windstream. Walter Darnell Austin accessed old files with Windstream customers and open fraudulent accounts with several on-line retail companies. Walter Darnell Austin ordered merchandise from these companies and had them delivered to an unoccupied house in Rowan County and investigators identified a second abandoned residence in Cabarrus County.
Investigators recovered thousands of dollars in fraudulently obtained merchandises from Walter Darnell Austin’s office in Kannapolis.
Once the scope of the investigation was known which is believed to have been a regular activity over the last year investigators notified Windstream about the crimes.
Lt. Moose meet with cooperate representatives from Windstream who are cooperating with the investigation and making efforts to assist in identifying any customers that were possibly victimized by Walter Austin’s activities.
Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office was also notified and has joined in the investigation. It appears the bulk of the victims were residents of either Rowan or Cabarrus County. Warrants have been issued in Rowan County for Walter Darnell Austin for Felony Identity Theft, Felony Identity Theft Trafficking, and Felony Obtaining Property by False Pretenses. Anybody with information about this case are asked to contact Rowan County Sheriff CID Lt. Chad Moose (704) 216-8687, Sgt. Owens (704) 216- 8683, or Det. Carl Dangerfield (704) 216- 8711.