Over the weekend, a pregnant mother of six appeared in court due to prosecutors accusing her of stealing the identities of various people, including Empire star Taraji P. Henson, and ordering thousands of dollars worth of merchandise that was delivered to dummy addresses, reports the Chicago Tribune.
Alicia Newby, the woman accused of the crime, cried next to her court-appointed lawyer at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago on Sunday (July 28).
Newby has been charged with a single felony count of continuing a financial crime enterprise.
The 29-year-old was ordered released on a $10,000 signature bail and electronic monitoring, but she was forbidden from reaching out to her victims or witnesses.
During the court hearing that took place before Judge Charles S. Beach II, prosecutors did not name any of the woman’s alleged victims, but according to police and court records, Henson was named as one of them.
A representative for the 48-year-old actress who’s native to Washington D.C. couldn’t be reached for comment.
“Multiple other victims” were found, but only two were named during the hearing on Sunday, according to an investigation by law enforcement and the Cook County state’s attorney financial crime unit.
Newby’s scheme totaled more than $12,000 in fraudulent transactions, although more than $4,000 were canceled following Henson’s manager discovering the fraudulent attempts last August.
Law enforcement didn’t mention how Newby and Henson were connected, but according to a police source, investigators were also investigating whether or not any other cast members of Fox’s Empire were potentially victimized.
The main reason that Newby was successful in regards to Henson, was that she compromised the actress’s email account.
“Once this was done, the defendant then raided the account for a variety of information,” which included telephone numbers, addresses, and financial accounts that Newby could then use to buy things online, Assistant State’s Attorney James Costello told the court.
Newby not only defrauded Henson, but she also defrauded JP Morgan Chase, PayPal, American Express, and various other merchants in her scam, according to charging documents.
The woman was arrested early Saturday (July 28) while cops served her a search warrant at her apartment, after a yearlong investigation.
Law enforcement discovered items that they believe were purchased in the fraudulent scheme and were awaiting forensic analysis results of several electronics that were seized during the search.
Taraji P. Henson’s team contacted Chicago law enforcement once the actress’s manager noticed the fraudulent charges that appeared on several of Henson’s accounts, according to prosecutors.
Her manager also recognized that the items were being delivered to two South Side addresses under names that they didn’t know, according to prosecutors.
The woman had utilities in her name mailed to both addresses, one of which she had a lease for, using a second victim’s identity, according to the investigation.
Before Newby was arrested, the police obtained records via social media, email accounts, financial institutions, and phone companies that allegedly pointed to Newby as the person responsible for the scheme.
Her lawyer asked the judge for a reasonable bond, stating that she committed a non-violent crime, she’s a mother of six, is currently two months pregnant, and she suffers from bipolar disorder.