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Pair charged with profiting from identity thefts at Center City condo

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THE BOOK, quite telling, was found amid the newly purchased Ikea furnishings and the latest electronic appliances inside the tony Center City apartment.

Its title - "The Art of Cheating: A Nasty Little Book for Tricky Little Schemers and Their Hapless Victims" - may have said it all in the case of Jocelyn Kirsch and Edward K. Anderton.

The scheming, the trickery, the artistry described in the title, may have been used by the couple to defraud local businesses, credit-card companies, and their neighbors at the Belgravia House Condos - apparently all in the name of a lavish lifestyle.

Philadelphia police began to unravel the finely tuned scheme over the weekend.

Kirsch, 22, and Anderton, 25, both of Chestnut Street near 18th, were arrested Friday on charges of stealing some of their neighbors' identities and establishing credit lines in their names.

The duo also burglarized at least two of their neighbors' apartments and, police allege, they then faked Georgia state driver's licenses so they could open credit card accounts.

Anderton and Kirsch were charged with identity theft, conspiracy, unlawful use of a computer, forgery and a slew of other offenses, said Lt. George Ondrejka of Central Detectives.

Kirsch, a Drexel University student who is a former member of the sorority Delta Phi Epsilon, according to a Drexel Web site, and Anderton, a 2005 University of Pennsylvania graduate who was fired from his analyst job with Lubert-Adler Real Estate Funds, had just tried to pick up a lingerie package they had ordered from England.

In one instance, Kirsch allegedly tried to pass a phony $1,700 check to pay for hair extensions at Giovanni & Pileggi salon, at 17th and Walnut streets.

Cops said the couple trotted the globe, furnished their apartment and bought the latest in electronics with their newfound credit.

They traveled to Paris, Hawaii, and Turks & Caicos Islands, Ondrejka said.

Kirsch's walk-in closet was bursting with so many designer clothes, shoes and handbags that cops couldn't step inside, said a police source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The couple's living room was filled with "a lot of new stuff, Ikea, electronics," Ondrejka said.

Kirsch and Anderton, who moved into the two-bedroom, $3,000-a-month rental in June, were described by a police source as the "Bonnie and Clyde of ID fraud."

"There is no physical means of support," the source said.

After obtaining a search warrant, cops found three safe lock boxes in their apartment and confiscated $18,000 in cash, a Rolex watch, counterfeit Georgia state driver's licenses, credit cards in the names of neighbors, and a 2005 article from the Daily Pennsylvanian - Penn's newspaper - on "How to Spot Fake IDs."

They also found old billing statements for one neighbor and the passport of another, both apparently taken during burglaries, police said. The couple used the signature from the passport on one of the fake driver's licenses.

Investigators seized four computers, including two laptops; two copiers; a scanner, and an industrial-size machine that manufactures driver's licenses. They also found Spector spyware, which monitors computer use.

Police found one fake driver's license soaking in fabric bleach to give it an aged look, they said.

Sometimes, the couple got really nasty.

When the phony $1,700 check for hair extensions was refused, someone at the salon tried to contact Kirsch by phone, then with a text message, to which Kirsch allegedly replied:

"Hello. You don't know my name, but I know yours. I also know your nice place on . . . Street and how you get home at night. You're the one who should be worried."

The couple also had copies of the mailbox keys of every resident at Belgravia Condos, 1811 Chestnut, and copies of door keys to about 30 percent of the building's apartments, the police source said. Police also found a picklock set.

"Once this investigation got broader and we had more tentacles in it, we realized this is bigger than we thought," Ondrejka said.

He said Philadelphia Police have contacted the Secret Service and the Economic Crimes Unit at the district attorney's office for assistance in the investigation.

Computer-forensics analysts will be called to look at the couple's hard drives, he said.

"We've opened a Pandora's box," said the law-enforcement source.

Cops believe the two stole some of their neighbors' personal information by using Spector and by breaking into their homes.

Most of their victims had no clue, police said.

Investigators have interviewed many of the building's residents. Some detectives startled residents over the weekend with the story of the arrest, asking them, "Would you mind if we try this key in your door?" A half-dozen times, the keys worked, the police source said.

But at least one victim was not hapless. The woman, who had recently moved into the building from out-of-state, received a notice about her Capital One card, police said.

She had never applied for one.

The resident filed a police report about a week ago and followed up with Central Detectives last week. She had investigated her own credit and found Internet purchasing activity and new credit-card accounts.

She also found that thieves had opened an account in her name on Oct. 19 - nearly three weeks after she had moved in - at a UPS store on Spruce Street near 37th, the police source said.

When she called the UPS store, she learned that she had a package waiting from Farnborough, United Kingdom.

Lt. Gary Williams of the Penn police and two other Penn police officers arrested the pair.

Bail was set at $25,000, and Kirsch's father came up from Winston-Salem, N.C., and paid a percentage of it. She was released about 7 a.m. yesterday; Anderton was expected to be released later, police said. Police expect to rearrest Anderton and Kirsch on burglary charges, they said. People who think they may have been victimized by the couple were asked to call police at 215-686-3093.

Staff writer Christine Olley contributed to this report.