IN THE END, it was the hair that snagged them.
Jocelyn Kirsch's greedy pursuit of flowing auburn extensions is what finally led to the arrest of both her and her 25-year-old lover, Edward Anderton, thus ending the couple's intricately executed identity-theft scam, federal authorities said yesterday.
The tresses, valued at $2,274 at Center City hair salon Giovanni and Pileggi, were attached to Kirsch, 22, a former Drexel University senior, over 7 1/2 hours in late November. The duo also gave the hair stylist a $250 tip - and a bad check.
Before that, most of the crafty couple's fraud occurred over the Internet, where they purchased items by opening up credit cards, using personal information from friends, co-workers and neighbors in a condo development, the Belgravia, in Center City. But their in-person appearance at Giovanni and Pileggi showed they had become careless, federal authorities said.
"Captured by the hair, that's the joke. But it was the greed of the hair extensions," U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan said yesterday. "Once that check bounced, then there was an ability to go back, actually identify the victim and tie to that a name."
From there, Philadelphia police were able to get descriptions of the suspects and stake out the UPS store in West Philadelphia where one of the victims told cops the couple had opened a mailbox - in her name. One day later, on Nov. 30, the two were nabbed by University of Pennsylvania cops.
Kirsch and Anderton fleeced nearly $120,000 from familiar faces at home and at work, funding a lavish lifestyle that focused on themselves.
The stolen monies paid for trips to the Caribbean and Paris, the latest electronic gadgetry, Ikea furniture, clothes and fabulous nights on the town.
Kirsch and Anderton have signed federal plea agreements that likely will send them to prison for several years, her attorney, Ron Greenblatt, said yesterday.
Local charges against Anderton and Kirsch were dropped yesterday morning, and about an hour later, Meehan announced the filing of federal charges against the two. They are charged with conspiracy, access-device fraud, bank fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft.
"The year of living dangerously has caught up with them now," Meehan said. "This couple, with a common interest in crime, is facing an uncertain future - one that's likely to include time in federal prison."
Greenblatt said his client will face a mandatory minimum federal prison term of two years. The maximum she could face is 69 years. He said she will "immediately" pay restitution to the victims, but did not elaborate.
Anderton's attorney, Lawrence Krasner, would not comment on his client's case.
When asked how Kirsch was doing, Greenblatt said: "Well, obviously, this has been a difficult, trying time for her and her family. But this is a step in moving this case forward."
Kirsch and Anderton were not in Philadelphia yesterday. Anderton is home in Everett, Wash., with his parents. Kirsch, who has left her job with Starbucks in Napa, Calif.; moved out of her mother and stepfather's home in Novato, Calif., and is living in a nearby apartment, sources said.
"Bonnie and Clyde," as the former lovebirds came to be known nationally, allegedly stole about $119,000 from people they knew and tried to obtain another $112,621 in their schemes, according to the federal document.
They obtained personal information from their neighbors by using mailbox and unit keys the pair allegedly swiped from their former condo on Chestnut Street near 18th.
The couple established eBay and PayPal accounts to sell ill-gotten laptop computers and iPods purchased with the fraudulent credit cards they opened with other people's personal information, the feds said.
They also sold items that they never delivered to unsuspecting eBay customers. The pair made about $33,000 and attempted to make another $99,000 in these transactions, federal investigators said.
"Victims found themselves caught in the defendants' tentacles," Meehan said.
Anderton and Kirsch also developed sticky fingers at their workplaces.
Anderton worked as a financial analyst at Lubert-Adler, a real-estate private-equity firm with offices in the Cira Centre, near 30th Street and JFK Boulevard. He earned about $65,000 from September 2006 until he was fired on July 30, 2007.
Anderton allegedly took personal information from the men's locker room inside the Cira Centre's fitness center, the federal document said. He also allegedly took information from a Lubert-Adler job applicant and then, pretending to be a human-resources manager, Anderton or Kirsch called the applicant to ask for more information, federal authorities said.
Kirsch interned in Fort Washington at McNeil Consumer Health Care, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary that makes Tylenol and Motrin, said a company spokeswoman, who declined to give any other details about Kirsch's internship. A law-enforcement source said the internship took place last year.
"Their co-workers gave them access to their credit cards for legitimate company business," Meehan said.
Anderton and Kirsch would then transfer money from the sales into a banking account, and, while dressed in masks, wigs and dark glasses, would withdraw cash from ATMs, authorities said.
In yesterday's federal documents, authorities said Kirsch and Anderton snatched unattended purses from women at a Center City hangout late at night, then quickly found contact information from the victims' bags to call them and "lull [them]into believing that the purse[s] would be returned with credit cards intact," Meehan said. Their goal was to make credit-card purchases before the victims realized it was a scam.
The victims never saw their purses again.
"No one takes pleasure in seeing two bright young people with promising futures ending up in this place and at this point," said Janice Fedarcyk, the FBI agent-in-charge locally. "But let's be careful not to glamorize their crime because of their youth and their status in society." *
Staff writer Julie Shaw contributed to this article.