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Florida Prison Inmate Orchestrates an Identity-theft Scheme that Tricked
 Hotel Employees and Guests into Giving Him Credit-card Numbers
 and Personal Information

By Susan Jacobson and Anika Myers Palm, The Orlando Sentinel, Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Aug. 20, 2010 - A state prison inmate orchestrated an identity-theft scheme that tricked hotel employees and guests into helping him obtain credit-card numbers and personal information, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said Friday.

Damion Goldsmith, 40, a.k.a. Daimion Andrico Goldsmith, who has previous convictions for fraudulent use of personal identification, credit-card fraud, fraud and grand theft, had friends help him call hotels and ask room-service employees for the numbers of rooms they had just delivered to, arrest papers show.

He claimed to be "Joe from security," in some of the calls, and the workers provided him with the information, documents show.

Then, with the help of friends and at least one relative on the outside, he called the hotels again and asked for those rooms. Claiming there was a "bug in the computer" or that the system had gone down, he requested guests' credit-card numbers, expiration dates, addresses and phone numbers, the investigation showed.

If the guest said he or she couldn't hear -- not knowing a prisoner at the Suwannee Correctional Institution in Live Oak was on the line -- Goldsmith would say he was hanging up and a colleague would take down the information, documents show. Then one of his accomplices stepped in, the FDLE said.

Several guests were suspicious and refused to provide the information. But others obliged. FDLE has identified eight victims who agents say lost more than $10,000.

Orlando residents Kendra Hodge, 22, Lavonda Goldsmith, 45, Geneva Legrier, 18, and Levell Jones, 64, were arrested on various fraud charges and booked into the Orange County Jail. Bail is set at $10,000 each. An additional suspect, Edison Filer, 48, is at large.

The Florida Department of Corrections, which records inmate conversations, notified FDLE in February that Goldsmith was using stolen credit-card information, said Carol Frederick, an FDLE spokeswoman. The agency then began Operation Spoiled Vacation.

Although they were not successful all of the time, the group managed to open credit accounts in hotel guests' names and pay utility bills with other people's money, documents show. Goldsmith also directed hundreds of dollars into his and other inmates' prison accounts, authorities said.

Orlando hotel guests were not the only ones targeted. Tourists in Alabama, North Carolina and other states also were victimized in incidents going back to August 2009, the FDLE said.

Goldsmith has a criminal history in Florida dating to 1985. His convictions include escape, inciting a riot, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and armed robbery.

He has been in prison since November 1999 on two dozen convictions for offenses including grand-theft auto, grand theft, forgery, credit-card fraud, burglary, fraudulent use of personal identification and organized fraud. Goldsmith was scheduled to be released in April 2015.


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