Documents showing up in towns across state, nation
Raleigh - In a three-month investigation that ranged across North Carolina and into other states, inspectors with the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles' License and Theft Bureau arrested a Wilmington man yesterday morning and charged him with six felony counts related to the manufacture, sale and distribution of fraudulent North Carolina driver licenses.
The investigation, which began in March in Mecklenburg County as the result of a fake driver license recovered from a retail establishment, uncovered hundreds of counterfeit driver licenses made largely for use by underage license holders. The probe involved about 10 License and Theft Bureau inspectors, along with investigators from the U.S. Postal Service and Homeland Security Investigations of the Department of Homeland Security.
"We are extremely proud of the efforts of the License and Theft Bureau and grateful for the support of the other agencies involved in ending fraudulent ID labs," DMV Commissioner Kelly J. Thomas said. "Eliminating these operations helps protect hundreds of North Carolina citizens and their identities, and this makes it a priority for NCDMV and the License and Theft Bureau."
Daniel Corey Benson, 33, of 133 Charter Drive, Wilmington, was arrested and charged with one felony count of trafficking in stolen identities and five felony counts of identity theft. Benson is accused of manufacturing 250 fraudulent driver licenses since October 2015.
Months of investigation yielded the location of a document lab in Wilmington and the identification of the suspect, according to License and Theft Bureau Inspector W. L. Carswell. He and Inspector A. J. Pinney, both based in NCDMV's Huntersville office, described the operation as having advanced document-making equipment, including several computer towers, a laptop, a laser precision cutting device, card stock, fraudulent state seals and additional lab paraphernalia, all of which were seized.
Included in the seizures were about 30 completed fraudulent North Carolina driver licenses. Investigators successfully identified individuals who purchased documents through Benson's website. The fraudulent licenses were issued to individuals in Cary, Charlotte, Chapel Hill, Fayetteville, Greenville, Raleigh, Carrboro, Matthews, Gastonia, Boone, Kernersville, Wilmington, Henderson, Goldsboro, and in the states of Texas, Minnesota and South Carolina.
"We are now shifting our attention to actively seeking the holders of these documents," Inspector Carswell said.
Following a court appearance today, Benson is being held in the New Hanover County Jail on $50,000 secured bond. According to inspectors, additional charges are probable, pending added information regarding the manufacture of fraudulent licenses.