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.


Mina Kim

Mina Kim is evening anchor and reporter for KQED News and Friday host of Forum. Mina got hooked on public radio in 2004, during a brief fellowship with KQED's Pacific Time, which is no longer in production. She became KQED's general assignment reporter in 2010, health reporter for The California Report in 2012, and KQED News' anchor a year later. She was named Friday Forum host in 2014.

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