Beauty Queen Used ID Theft to Fund Lavish Lifestyle: Cops - NBC4 Washington

Beauty Queen Used ID Theft to Fund Lavish Lifestyle: Cops

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Beauty Queen Used ID Theft to Fund Lavish Lifestyle: Cops
    Cops say Shaw was living a double life.

    A former Hawaiian beauty queen with a husband and young toddlers in the islands was living a double life -- funded by a massive number of identity thefts -- in a Manhattan Beach home, her boyfriend told police, according to the Daily Breeze.

    Susan Shaw's husband and family on Oahu said they had been mystified about her frequent trips and lavish lifestyle, which apparently was funded by hundreds of stolen credit cards found inside a rental home in the 300 block of 11th Street. The former Miss Hawaii International of 1992 had fraudulently obtained credit reports, gift cards and other documents, the Daily Breeze reported.

    Manhattan Beach police Detective Joe Aiello told the newspaper that the evidence included Social Security numbers, addresses and birthdays of victims and potential victims. Aiello said he turned over all the items to the Honolulu Police Department.

    Shaw was indicted by a Hawaii grand jury May 12 on 122 counts, including identity and credit card theft, forgery and money laundering. She was arrested arriving at the Honolulu airport, and Honolulu police are asking the court to have her $1 million bail possibility revoked.

    At the  airport, she was reportedly carrying numerous high-priced clothing items and handbags, many with price tags still attached.

    The former beauty queen is suspected of stealing at least $160,000, but the amount is likely to increase as more victims are found and the investigation continues, police on the island said.

    Manhattan Beach police said they have uncovered evidence that could lead to more charges against Shaw, representing an additional 25 or more victims. The current Hawaiian indictment is for alleged crimes against 11 people.

    According to a search warrant affidavit filed at the Torrance Courthouse, a man living at the Manhattan Beach rental identified himself to police as Shaw's boyfriend and said he was unaware of the stolen identities found there. This man is reportedly cooperating with the investigation.

    The purported boyfriend also expressed surprised that Shaw is married and has two young children, the Daily Breeze reported. Shaw also has a pre-teen child from a previous relationship.

    The beauty queen's husband, who lives on the Oahu city of Kailua, and other family members and friends told Honolulu police they could never figure out why the woman traveled so much or where she got the money she spent on designer clothes and handbags, Honolulu prosecutor Christopher Van Marter told the Daily Breeze.

    According to Hawaiian detectives, Shaw reportedly stole from most of her victims in the same manner.

    First, the victims contacted police after discovering that their mail, such as bank statements and credit card applications, was being held or re- routed without their authorization. Then, credits cards were opened in their names.

    "This went on for about a year," Van Marter told the Daily Breeze. "It was difficult to find out who was doing it because she would apply for (credit) cards online almost always from an (Internet provider) address that did not go back to her address - but a public spot, like a Starbucks."

    The credit cards would be sent to various addresses -- usually residences without mailboxes at the end of long driveways that Shaw could access without detection, according to Van Marter.

    Detectives received a tip about where a credit card would be delivered, and put the mailbox under surveillance on May 8, 2008. They saw a woman drive up, steal mail from the box and then replace it, Van Marter told the Daily Breeze.

    Honolulu police said they tried to follow their suspect, eventually identified as Shaw, in their unmarked car, but she was driving too fast. Then, she failed to stop for a stop sign.

    Shaw was eventually pulled over by a uniformed patrol officer and given a traffic warning after he obtained her identifying information, according to court documents.

    "They had a suspect so they knew in their minds who was responsible," Van Marter told the Daily Breeze. "And then they just started to build the case from there."