ID theft probe focused on Kingman Farms worker

KINGMAN - A Phoenix woman filed a felony identity theft charge last month against an unidentified suspect at Kingman Farms LLC, records indicate.

Angela Riggs, 45, said she recently lost her job and was applying for benefits through the Department of Economic Security for herself and her 16-year-old daughter, when she discovered her daughter's Social Security number traced back to an address listed as owned by Kingman Farms LLC in Golden Valley, according to 2014 Mohave County Assessor records.

Kingman Farms LLC is Las Vegas developer Jim Rhodes' latest business venture in Mohave County, which plans to farm about 40,000 to 50,000 acres using a sophisticated underground GPS drip irrigation system to sell produce to national and local stores, restaurants and food services.

"(Department of Economic Security) told me she was showing in their system as being employed there," said Riggs. "I let them know she's never worked there and they directed me to file identity theft charges."

Mohave County Sheriff's Office confirmed the charges had been filed.

"This identity theft report incident is under investigation," said Trish Carter, spokeswoman for the sheriff's office. "Detectives are working on it."

Calls and messages left to Kingman Farms LLC and Rhodes' Las Vegas development company, Sagebrush Enterprises, Inc., were not returned.

Last fall, Kingman Farms expanded 600 acres and hired 25 permanent workers harvesting a variety of vegetables, according to Dick Mills, the general manager of farm operations.

Rhodes filed Ch. 11 bankruptcy in Nevada in 2009 and again in 2013, records show.

According to Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne's Office, identity theft occurs when someone takes or uses another person's personally identifying information such as their name, social security number, driver's license or financial account information.

A total 127 reported acts of fraud, forgery and counterfeiting were reported in Mohave County in 2012, according to the most current Arizona Department of Public Safety annual crime report.

Identity theft remains a continual problem in the area, said Kingman Police Department Spokeswoman Jennifer Sochocki.

"People obtain credit cards and personal information by stealing mail, using credit card skimmers at gas stations, and over the phone," she said. "The Kingman Police Department recommends the public to maintain their personal information and credit cards by not providing credit card information over the phone unless they are the one making the phone call to a known company and phone number, using lockable mailboxes, and when fueling vehicles at gas stations to go inside to use cash or process your credit card."

Beginning June 16, the Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division is introducing a redesigned, high-security credential aimed at preventing identity theft.

States are increasingly adopting the added security features, which will require a two-week temporary license to allow time for processing.