Oakland police say they’ve shut down the biggest identity theft operation the department has come across.


Photo: Mina Kim, KQED

Last week, police arrested 40-year-old Hayward resident Mishel Caviness-Williams, finding 900 blank credit cards, card printers, stacks of blank checks, and the personal information of thousands of people in her one bedroom apartment.

“We think we’re going to have a lot more victims than what we have, and I think the loss is going to be dramatic,” said Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts on Monday.

“You don’t find labs like this making this amount of material to be falsified anywhere in the Bay Area.” Police suspect Caviness-Williams did not act alone.

Alameda prosecutors have charged Caviness-Williams with forgery, identity theft and grand theft. Caviness-Williams has a previous felony conviction for welfare fraud.

Police got help from the US Secret Service in their investigation, which started five months ago, after a City of Oakland employee reported someone was using her bank account to cash bad checks.

You can read the 20 counts against Caviness-Williams here.

Author

Mina Kim

Mina Kim is KQED News’ evening anchor and the Friday host of Forum. She reports on a wide range of issues affecting the Bay Area and interviews newsmakers, local leaders and innovators. Mina started her career in public radio at KQED as an intern with Pacific Time. When the station began expanding its local news coverage in 2010, she became a general assignment reporter, then health reporter for The California Report. Mina’s award-winning stories have included on-the-scene reporting of the 2014 Napa earthquake and a series on gun violence in Oakland. Her work has been recognized by the Radio Television Digital News Association, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Asian American Journalists Association. Mina grew up in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Oak Park, CA. She lives in Napa.

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