Accused Cordova identity thief held on $20M bond - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Accused Cordova identity thief held on $20M bond

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CORDOVA, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Forty-year-old Mareco Bell of Cordova is being held on a $20 million bond after the Shelby County Sheriff found over 500 personal identities, including pin numbers and debit cards and medical documents belonging to 10 separate cancer patients, inside his home.

Bell was charged with one count of identity theft trafficking and 10 counts of identity theft.

READ the Affidavit of Complaint against Mareco Bell

"This is one of the biggest, most significant cases of identity theft that we've seen in Shelby County," said Chip Washington, SCSO spokesman.

According to the SCSO, ALERT (Area Law Enforcement Retailers Team) detectives received intelligence that Bell was actively committing acts of Identity Theft out of his Par View Cove home in Cordova.

ALERT detectives, a SWAT team and Fugitive and Patrol deputies secured and executed a search warrant for Bell's home. The search warrant yielded documents to support identity theft trafficking, fraudulent Tennessee driver's licenses, fraudulent tax returns, seized computers, and a 2010 Nissan Altima.

Par View Cove neighbors say it was a quiet Tuesday afternoon when the sheriff's SWAT team rolled down the street. One neighbor said she saw the suspect in handcuffs on the lawn.

The search warrant also yielded 10 medical documents with personal information belonging to 10 people being treated for cancer, the affidavit of complaint said. The cancer patients told the sheriff's office they wish to prosecute.

"It's one thing to steal from people, but cancer patients? Come on! That's just really low," said Annette Hershner, neighbor.

"It makes it sad on many, many levels but again, you know, when justice is served we'll all feel better about it," Washington said.

SCSO turned over the remainder of the evidence to the IRS and Secret Service for possible federal charges.

Bell said after his Miranda Rights were read to him that he received the information from a man known as Kenneth Hale. He told ALERT detectives he was supposed to open accounts for Hale under the identities of the cancer patients.

One of Bell's victims is a 72-year-old man. He told FOX13 News he will be keeping a close eye on his mailbox to make sure he's not getting any strange bills.

The elderly victim said SCSO contacted him last week to let him know he was one of the victims of the identity theft scam. He told FOX13 News a detective told him Bell worked as an employee at an area cancer treatment center where the victim was getting treatment.

The elderly victim, who plans to press charges, said he will call the cancer treatment center Wednesday to find out if bell was a rogue employee and if the center is going to provide him with resources or assistance to make sure that his information has not been sold.

Shelby County General Sessions Judge Lee Coffee, who set bail at $20 million, noted that Bell was armed and made threats.

"The detectives and our investigators are continuing to talk to people who may have been duped by this person trying to connect the dots, if you will, to get some of the folks that helped him locked up as well," Washington said.

Investigators say Bell preyed on victims from around the country.

Hershner and other neighbors are concerned about their own identities.

"That really makes me leery now cause that's like a few houses down from our house," she said. "What's to say they can't get a hold of our mail, you know, and take our identity?"

Investigators aren't saying where Bell obtained the medical information but they stress the charges filed Tuesday is just the beginning of this case.

The case remains under investigation.

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FOX13 News reporters Matt Gerien and Grey Coy contributed to this report.

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