Task force commander says he’s unaware of trouble for customers whose information was released
By Ed Runyan
On the Facebook page for Global Health and Fitness on Elm Road and in an email to The Vindicator, customers have expressed concern about the identity fraud revealed this week in connection with a purported steroid-trafficking operation.
But the commander of the Trumbull Ashtabula Group Law Enforcement Task Force, which carried out the investigation, says the “few” customers whose personal information was used have reported no loss of funds.
Capt. Jeff Orr of TAG said his investigators used “due diligence” to check into whether those whose personal information was used in the enterprise had noticed any problems with their credit.
Those individuals have reported no problems, and Orr said he doesn’t expect to find any because the steroids-operation investigators say Joseph Stiver, 22, of Bazetta Township operated with help from a former Global employee and didn’t involve the use of Global customers’ personal information to steal from them.
Former employee Randy A. McCale, 46, of Niles, is accused of selling Stiver personal information from 140 Global customers. A piece of notebook paper containing the personal information was found among items seized by police in December from a storage locker used by the enterprise.
A few of the identities were used to create PayPal accounts that were used to pay for anabolic steroids from manufacturers and to otherwise facilitate the enterprise, Orr said.
That activity would not have come to the attention of the individuals whose identities were used, Orr said, because money was placed in those accounts only for a short time to provide payments so the operators of the enterprise wouldn’t have to use their own identifying information, Orr said.
Such activity wouldn’t generate account information or billing statements to the person whose identity was used, Orr said.
Bill Myers, owner of Global, acknowledged that McCale used to work the front desk for him but no more, and said the individuals whose personal information was used were former customers.
Stiver and McCale were arraigned this week on charges of felony corruption and identity fraud. Stiver also is charged with eight counts of drug trafficking and four counts of tampering with evidence.
One woman who emailed The Vindicator said she spoke with a TAG investigator just after the investigation began, and he indicated her personal information had been used in the enterprise.
She said her membership at Global expired in March 2013.
When she learned that her personal information had been given out, she switched from credit accounts to a prepaid debit card, but the first two were “frozen,” and she got a third one Wednesday.
When she tried to use the cards, retailers advised her the card had been “flagged” or “frozen,” so she couldn’t use them.
The woman said a TAG investigator told her it’s possible a subpoena for records associated with the case could have caused the woman’s debit card to be “flagged,” but Orr said he doesn’t know if that’s so.