Local man found with copies of driver's licenses, insurance cards arrested on felony fraud charge

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

August 6, 2008 - A Sulphur Springs businessman was taken into custody after local and federal officials searched his home and business, finding counterfeits of high-dollar handbags and shoes at his business and numerous copies of driver's license and insurance cards.

Sulphur Springs police were contacted a few months ago by FBI and a trademarks investigation group regarding claims of counterfeiting by a local man. During an undercover buy, a couple of purses were purchased at the Gilmer Street business.

The case came to a head Tuesday when officials went to Something For Nothing and seized "a large amount" of purses and shoes, replicas of Luis Vitton, Gucci, Coach and other name brands. The man reportedly was selling the inferior items for considerably less than the name brand would normally draw, for instance a purse for $50-$60 which would normally cost $1,500 to $2,000, according to Sulphur Springs Police Detective Bo Fox.

The owner, Damon Dewayne Dugan, 29, was said to be cooperative with officers.

Authorities also searched Dugan's Como Street residence after obtaining a search warrant. They found papers, including several notebooks, containing photocopies of other people's driver's licenses and insurance cards, mostly belonging to local residents. The information was reportedly obtained during interviews in the past when he was a car salesman.

Damon Dewayne Dugan was arrested by Detective Fox and officer Jameison Hawkins at 3:30 p.m. for fraudulent use or possession of identifying information. The charge is a first-degree felony due to the large volume of other people's identifying information he had. To be considered a felony fraud, the person has to be in possession of more than three kinds of ID. Because he had more than 50, the charge was a first-degree felony.

Anyone who might be concerned their ID was used or obtained is encouraged to keep a constant watch on their credit information and, as recommended for everyone, have frequent credit checks run, Fox suggests.

No charges have been filed in conjunction with the counterfeit purses, and no other actions are planned regarding the business, which does still offer legitimate items such as clothing. All suspected illegal items were seized.

No actions will be taken against individuals who have purchased the purses and shoes, unless they attempt to sell them as the name brand items, as the law considers it an offense to be "in possession with intent to sell or distribute" such items. Also, no refunds are expected to be made for the purchased items, either.

The investigation into both cases is ongoing, according to Fox.

Fox noted that those seeking deals on high-dollar items should be leery of offers at considerably less than the original rate -- for instance, a $1,500 purse being sold for $50.

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