Turkish man gets 3 years in prison for nationwide cellphone theft spree
EAGLE — Eagle police weren’t certain where Al Paolo Duzyurt Lucci was from or where he was headed, but he had an armload of cellphones he had not paid for.
His cross-country excursion ended in Eagle last fall with his arrest. Monday morning, District Judge Russell Granger sent him to prison for 3 1/2 years.
“This court takes identity theft very seriously,” Granger said during Duzyurt’s sentencing.
Duzyurt is originally from Turkey and Duzyurt is likely a fictitious last name, authorities said Monday. He pleaded guilty to a fistful of felonies.
What he did
Duzyurt used a stolen Wells Fargo debit card to pay the sales taxes on thousands of dollars worth of prepaid cellphone purchases, beginning in the Carolinas and stretching across the country through Shawnee, Kansas; Denver; Dillon and Eagle. While Duzyurt paid the sales taxes with his stolen credit cards, he did not pay for the phones themselves.
He was caught in Eagle, and when Eagle police began their investigation, their inquiry led officers to believe there was more to this case, and the fraud was not be an isolated incident, Eagle Police Chief Joe Staufer said in a statement.
Duzyurt claimed to be affiliated with two businesses — one in California and another in Oklahoma — but neither had ever heard of him and had not authorized anyone to activate phone lines on their behalf, police said.
How he did it
Eagle police were called to the AT&T store in Eagle at 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 23, when an employee reported a possible fraud in progress.
Police arrived at the store to find Duzyurt arguing with a “short” female employee. He was “towering over her” in what appeared to be an attempt at intimidation, the arrest report said.
Police strode into the store, past one unattended vehicle left running outside.
Later, police determined that the vehicle was Duzyurt’s, that it was a rental car out of North Carolina and that the rental agreement had expired. He was three days overdue returning the car to the rental agency at Los Angeles International Airport.
It didn’t take police long to determine that Duzyurt was trying to buy four phones and a tablet that morning from the AT&T store in Eagle. He had also purchased two phones from the same store the night before.
Duzyurt had tried to make those purchases on a new account he had set up through a Santa Barbara, California, business. However, he had set up that account while he was traveling through Shawnee, Kansas.
The AT&T Eagle store employees told police they did a little research and learned that Duzyurt had used a personal Gmail account, and not the name associated with the business he listed, Integrated Medical Inc. in Santa Barbara, California.
The phone number Duzyurt had provided wasn’t associated with Integrated Medical, either, the police report said.
With a little more digging, the AT&T employees learned that employees with three other stores had activated phones for Duzyurt in the past seven days, but only one phone had been used.
The Eagle AT&T store employees called Integrated Medical in Santa Barbara, and learned they had never heard of Duzyurt, and that any activity associated with the California business was fraudulent.
When he was confronted, Duzyurt told the AT&T employee he had activated hundreds of lines with AT&T and threatened to cancel them all. He also said he was the CEO.
Police said Duzyurt became agitated and while he was in the store he called AT&T customer service. While he was on the phone, he told customer service he had 147 lines with AT&T and threatened to cancel them all.
Duzyurt had set up accounts in Denver several days before, and an AT&T employee there had notified AT&T’s internal fraud department.
The other version
Duzyurt’s own explanation to police differed significantly.
According to the police report, he said he owned a small company in New Mexico that makes hoses and tubes for oxygen tanks.
Duzyurt told police he was from California. However, he was driving a North Carolina rental car and produced a New Mexico driver’s license.
While he was talking with Eagle Police, he dropped a business card from a Verizon store in Dillon. Duzyurt had been in there the day before to purchase four cell phones, using a business name from Oklahoma City.
When Eagle Police called that Oklahoma business, they had never heard of Duzyurt.
Eagle police also learned that Duzyurt’s birthday does not match the one on his driver’s license, that his name is spelled several different ways on different documents and that his criminal record goes back to 2001 and includes a federal prison stint in Texas.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.