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Police: Pair Financed Fun With ID Theft

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[December 04, 2007]  PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- They were young, rich and in love. But the jet-setters financed their fun on the credit cards of unsuspecting neighbors in their high-end apartment building and other identity-fraud victims, police said Monday.

The fraud scheme paid for jaunts to Paris, London and Hawaii and a stop at a tony salon for $1,700 worth of hair extensions, police said.

Drexel University student Jocelyn Kirsch, 22, and beau Edward K. Anderton, a University of Pennsylvania graduate, were charged Friday with identity theft, forgery, unlawful use of a computer and a laundry list of other counts.

"They were two young people that were given many gifts in life," said Detective Terry Sweeney, who spoke of the couple's supportive families and private schooling. "And the very best thing they could do was victimize other people."

A police search of the couple's $3,000-a-month apartment turned up a book titled, "The Art of Cheating: A Nasty Little Book for Tricky Little Schemers and Their Hapless Victims," as well as a 2005 article from Penn's campus newspaper on "How to Spot Fake IDs."

Police started investigating after a resident on their floor notified police on Nov. 19 that she thought her identity had been stolen. A day later, the woman heard from a local UPS store about a waiting package, although she had not ordered anything from the British retailer that sent it.

Police kept an eye on the store and arrested Anderton and Kirsch on Friday when they walked in to pick up the package, detectives said.

A weekend search of the couple's apartment turned up a mother lode of tech toys: four computers, two printers, a scanner and an industrial machine that makes ID cards. Police also found $17,500 in cash, dozens of credit cards and fake drivers' licenses, and keys to unlock many of the apartments and mailboxes in their Rittenhouse Square building. Police are not yet sure how they got the keys.

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"They were like a parasite that infected that building," Sweeney said.

Police believe the scheme dates back at least two years and involves victims beyond the apartment house. A slide show found on one of their computers shows the couple's high-flying travels: kissing in front of the Eiffel Tower; sporting matching red swimwear at a ritzy oceanfront resort; and dining at an elegant restaurant.

Anderton was recently fired from a job as a financial analyst that had paid for at least his initial stay in the apartment, Lt. George Ondrejka said.

Sweeney estimates the scope of the couple's fraud in the past year alone at more than $100,000. He fears that police are not finished finding victims. So far, they know of five victims, one of whom was taken for $30,000.

It was not immediately clear if the couple had hired attorneys. Neither has a listed telephone number in Philadelphia.

Kirsch's father arrived from Winston-Salem, N.C., to post her $25,000 bond Sunday. Anderton, who hails from Washington state, posted bond Monday, police said.

[Associated Press; By MARYCLAIRE DALE]

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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