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Police: Couple used ID theft for lavish life

The laptop propped on a chair in a dingy basement hallway at the Central Detective Division yesterday told a heck of a story.

Among evidence collected by police at the pair's condo: A book on cheating.
Among evidence collected by police at the pair's condo: A book on cheating.Read moreCLEM MURRAY / Inquirer Staff Photographer

The laptop propped on a chair in a dingy basement hallway at the Central Detective Division yesterday told a heck of a story.

Photographs of a beautifully bronzed couple melted one into the next in a slide show on the small screen: sweethearts horseback riding in pale green surf in the Caribbean, smiling at each other from boat decks, across white linen tablecloths and against a backdrop of palm trees. Paris. Montreal. Turks and Caicos Islands.

"They were having fun," Detective Terry Sweeney said. "They were living the life."

But just past the laptop, inside a basement room, lay what police say is the true story behind the fairy-tale life of Edward Anderton, who turns 25 today, and Jocelyn Kirsch, 22. Beyond the glitter and the glamor, authorities say, they were just a couple of thieves who may have been scamming victims in the Philadelphia region for at least a year.

Spread across a long table were tools: dozens of fraudulent drivers' licenses and credit cards in various names lined up in rows. Among the display was a kit for picking locks, several laptops, computer software used in ID theft, and a machine for printing identification cards.

Also on the table were at least 40 keys to doors and mailboxes at the Belgravia, the Center City condo building at 18th and Chestnut Streets, where the couple had lived since early summer. Police believe the couple used the keys to help them steal neighbors' identities, but it was unclear how Anderton and Kirsch allegedly got them.

Displayed with the couple's tools was about $17,500 in $100s, $50s and $20s, and $1,500 more in gift certificates. There was also an invitation from "Eddie and Jocelyn" to a Sept. 15 housewarming the couple threw for themselves.

Philadelphia police took all of it out of the couple's condo Saturday. The two, arrested Friday and free on bail, face each at least 15 counts of forgery, identity theft, unlawful use of a computer, and conspiracy.

They were arrested after one victim, who lives in the Belgravia, saw unauthorized charges on her credit card last week and called police. University of Pennsylvania police picked them up at a store in University City where they had gone to pick up packages, including Godiva chocolates from West Virginia and lingerie from England, that they allegedly ordered under the woman's name.

Police speculate the couple may have ordered goods delivered to shipping stores in order to avoid store surveillance cameras.

Investigators have identified at least four additional victims and expect to find more. One is a former Penn nursing student now living in the Washington area, with two in Chester and Montgomery Counties, plus another Belgravia resident. They have served four search warrants and Sweeney estimates they will need at least 10 more.

"Each computer and hard drive needs a search warrant," he said. Police recovered four computers and at least three additional drives in the couple's condo.

The FBI and the U.S. Postal Service are assisting in the investigation. A federal indictment could bring at least two years in prison, Sweeney said.

"These were two young people who were given substantial gifts in life," he said. Anderton, originally from Everett, Wash., graduated from Penn in 2005 with a bachelor's degree in economics. Kirsch, of Winston-Salem, N.C., is a senior in international area studies at Drexel University.

Authorities believe the couple met about two years ago, but the circumstances of how they were introduced was unclear.

At the Belgravia yesterday, a security guard blocked the entrance, explaining, "No media."

"I just started working this site," he said. "I don't know [Anderton and Kirsch]. I don't want to know them."

Investigators said Anderton had recently lost his job, but they could not verify his employer.

Kirsch was also unemployed but well-coifed. On Thursday, she received thousands of dollars in hair extensions at Giovanni & Pileggi, receptionist Elaine Dougherty said yesterday.

She gave the salon a $500 deposit on a credit card in the name of the victim, who quickly caught the charge and called police. She said Kirsch, who carried a designer handbag, also wrote a $1,775 check, using a fraudulent Georgia driver's license as ID. The check was bad.

So was the $250 tip she left the stylist.

"She got the full hair. Her hair looked gorgeous," said Dougherty of the six- to seven-hour hair job. The extensions "are going to get knotty if she doesn't wash them."