FBI nabs Columbus man on ID theft charge

benw@ledger-enquirer.comOctober 11, 2013 

Drew D. Johnson, 26, was arrested at an undisclosed Columbus residence, said Robert Mathews, a supervisory senior agent for the Southwest Georgia Federal Bureau of Investigation. Johnson is shown in handcuffs being taken but agents just before 6 p.m. from the parking lot to their First Avenue office in the SunTrust Bank building.

ROBIN TRIMARCHI/RTRIMARCHI@LEDGER-ENQUIRER.COM

A Columbus man was taken into custody by the FBI Friday and charged with identity theft, authorities said.

Drew D. Johnson, 26, was arrested at an undisclosed Columbus residence, said Robert Mathews, a supervisory senior agent for the Southwest Georgia Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Johnson was in handcuffs just before 6 p.m. when agents escorted him from the parking lot to their First Avenue office in the SunTrust Bank building. He will appear in District Court on Tuesday for a hearing on the charge.

Mathews couldn’t state how many charges would be made in connection with the arrest.

“It’s going to be a very large number,” Mathews said. “We don’t know the full extent of it right now.”

Johnson’s arrest came after a tip from the Columbus Police Department, which is assisting in the case.

The arrest is linked to global credit-card and payment processor TSYS, who two weeks ago announced that personal data from 5,247 current and former employees was stolen early last month by an employee of a third-party administrator of its health care plans. The company said a Paragon Benefits worker emailed the names, addresses, birth dates and Social Security numbers to a personal email account. The staffer is no longer with the company.

TSYS said at least 1,000 former employees and 11 family members had their data compromised.

Paragon Benefits is headquartered in Columbus on Bus Park Drive off Gateway Road. The company manages self-funded health care plans typically used by large companies offering coverage to employees.

State and federal authorities have been involved in the investigation since Sept. 11 when Paragon notified TSYS of the incident. The type of information stolen could be used by someone to take out bogus credit cards or file fake income tax returns.

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