California DMV worker used driver’s license records to steal identities, feds say

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Starting Jan. 22, Californians need to apply for a new, federally-approved driver's license or ID before the old ones become invalid for air travel.

A worker at California’s Department of Motor Vehicles, which is the subject on an ongoing federal bribery probe into the misuse of department computer files, has been accused of using driver’s license records in an elaborate mail and identity theft case.

Sarah Laray Sandoval, 39, was a DMV employee with access to computer records that included driver’s names, dates of birth, addresses and other personal information that was used to steal victims’ identities and open phony bank accounts, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Sacramento.

Sandoval, of West Sacramento, is named in the complaint along with Anthony Andrew Zamarron, 37, who shares the same address as Sandoval.

According to the complaint, the two conspired with others to use mail stolen from individuals – as well as mail stolen from a church – to target “certain postal customers and property theft victims for identity theft.”

With help from Zamarron, Sandoval would use DMV computers to research and obtain confidential personal information about mail theft victims, then open credit card or bank accounts posing as the victims, the complaint states.

Sandoval and Zamarron could not be reached for comment Thursday. The DMV declined to comment, but noted that Sandoval no longer works for the agency.

But the complaint lists a series of fraudulent transactions, including a $3,250 line of credit in the name of one mail theft victim and a $15,000 line of credit at Wells Fargo Bank opened in the name of another victim.

Some of the victims were found to have had their DMV records searched by Sandoval, and DMV investigators found no reason for her to have accessed the records, according to the complaint filed by U.S. Postal Inspector La’Keisha Alexander-Abram.

The violations occurred from December 2016 through early June of last year, according to court records, and resulted in 18 counts against the pair that include possession of stolen mail, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.

The case follows revelations last year that federal investigators were looking into widespread misuse of DMV computers by employees who allegedly were taking bribes to alter test results for individuals seeking commercial driver’s licenses that would allow them to operate big rigs on California highways.

Four DMV workers pleaded guilty last year in the Sacramento region as a result of the probe, including one whose actions led to 123 phony commercial driver’s licenses to be issued.

Identity theft affects millions of people each year. You can learn how to make protecting yourself from identity thieves part of your daily routine.

Sam Stanton: 916-321-1091, @StantonSam

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