The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office (SCSO), working jointly with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), arrested Sammy David Nelson, 39, and Brittany Alexandria Nelson, 34, both of Margate; Jerome Dale Senior II, 41, of Plantation; Linda Joyce Hugley, 65, of Lauderdale Lakes; and Karlyn Marketa Campbell, 39, of Pompano Beach – all members of the Nelson Group. These five defendants face charges of organized scheme to defraud, racketeering, grand theft, and criminal use of personal identification information. Sammy and Brittany Nelson face additional charges for money laundering.
In 2022, SCSO opened an investigation after receiving multiple identity theft reports from residents. The victims reported that their personal identification had been compromised, and credit card accounts were opened without their consent at various financial institutions.
Sheriff’s office investigators confirmed the approval of more than 200 suspicious credit card applications through these financial institutions. Additionally, the institutions identified several individuals (through multiple groups) who appeared to be conspiring in this scheme. Investigators determined that the online criminal enterprise primarily operated out of the home of Sammy and Brittany Nelson, who recruited participants for their group from their friends and family.
Since 2018, this group has used seven fictitious businesses attempting fraudulent credit card transactions of almost $7 million, netting approximately $2.3 million. The investigation uncovered the transfer of money through various banking methods, all ultimately deposited into bank accounts belonging to Sammy Nelson.
FDLE Miami Special Agent in Charge Felipe Williams commented, "FDLE Miami is glad we could assist the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office in their case to arrest this group of deceitful criminals. Our citizens' identities are unique and fundamental. Anyone who tries to steal or manipulate that freedom in the state of Florida should know that FDLE works with its partners across the state and country to make sure they answer for their crimes. This group stole and laundered millions of dollars, and that illicit behavior will not be tolerated in Florida."
On behalf of SCSO, FDLE Miami executed a search warrant of the Nelson's residence and vehicles before arresting them on October 24. Senior and Campbell were arrested in Plantation the following day for their participation. Hugley was arrested on October 31. SCSO has outstanding warrants for eight additional suspects connected to these crimes: Edward A. Bell, Jr., Joel Curtiss, Oshane Malcolm, Dujuan Neil, Sheldon Neil, Jada C. Turnbull, Livens Toussaint, and Stanley Ulysse.
"These are complex cases that require painstaking dedication – to not only decipher but to track, which is why the sheriff’s office created an Economic Crimes Unit last year. We appreciate and commend those detectives for their meticulous investigation to bring this group to justice," said Sheriff Kurt A. Hoffman.