by Terry Gonzalez, KGUN-TV News, Tucson, Ariz.
Tucson Police say they've shut down an identity theft ring before it could get off the ground.
They say the mastermind of the operation stole $400,000 from victims in Oregon-- and he was setting up a similar operation in Tucson.
In the movie, "Catch Me If You Can"-- Leonardo DiCaprio's character-- a real-life ID thief-- goes through great lengths to take on fake identities and cash fake checks.
Decades ago- identity theft was an old fashioned game of cut & paste, and masquerade.
Today- thanks to technology- it's a quick and easy crime.
Police say Stephen C. Massey was a mastermind when it came to stealing ID's and money.
Thanks to Tucson Police-- Massey and two of his associates are in jail tonight.
Sgt. JT Turner says his south side officers have been monitoring motels in the Benson Highway and Park area for suspicious activity.
Turner says there was some action here at the Best Value Inn-- that caught officers' attention.
"Initially we observed a lot of foot activity going in and out of the motel that went on for two days in a row."
A motel manager says Massey checked in to room 222 under a different name.
The manager says she didn't notice any fancy equipment-- but police say Massey had set up quite an elaborate operation right inside this room.
Sgt. Turner, "There was a laptop, a printer, a fax machine- both pretty high dollar documents, reams of paper with social security numbers, credit cards, credit card numbers."
Since Massey gave police a fake name with an ID to match-- officers didn't realize they'd nabbed one of country's most notorious ID thieves.
They realized it when-- get this--officers found a recent New York Times article in Massey's motel room.
The article explained Massey's crimes and showed his picture.
An Oregon judge sentenced Massey to 41 months in prison for ID theft three years ago.
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Massey served his time, but violated his probation when he left Oregon in October.