Victim’s family speaks out after phone theft ring busted in Minneapolis

Families in a metro area are speaking out, sharing their stories of how thieves stole their phones and how quickly they were trying to drain online financial apps in hopes of helping others.

A sweeping investigation involving Minneapolis state and local law enforcement recently led to racketeering charges against a dozen suspects in a sophisticated cell phone theft ring.

Authorities report at least 40 victims dating back more than a year, although the number is expected to be much higher. The crew escaped with fraudulent financial transfers of tens of thousands of dollars, according to court documents.

“Then I saw Venmo deals, cash app deals. It was fast. They got $5,000 in no time,” one woman told FOX 9’s Paul Blume. She said she was shocked by the speed of the thieves.

“Then bang, they disappeared. He said they disappeared in seconds. There was a group of people.”

The woman has a college-going son in Minneapolis-St. Paul area. FOX 9 is protecting their identities.

According to them, the young man was out drinking with friends at the Blarney Pub and Grill near the University of Minnesota in January when he thought he was meeting a new friend at the bar.

The woman said: “The guy was nice to him, they were just gossiping.

But afterward, outside the block, the guy asked for her son’s iPhone in exchange for Snapchat messages. As soon as he handed over the equipment, his new friend and a few others, in what appeared to be a coordinated group, took off.

She logged into his online bank account shortly after her son notified her that the thieves had spent the money he had used to help pay for college.

At this point, it is unclear whether the recently broken cellphone theft ring was responsible for what happened to the young man.

Aside from the time and location, court documents show that more than a dozen suspects sometimes resorted to friendlier methods like this one to steal phones. Other times, they were accused of using sheer force, violence or intimidation.

The man authorities identified as the leader of the conspiracy, Double or“Brandon” Su, aka iPhone Man, was arrested this week. He apparently co-owned a hot pot restaurant just a block from Blarney, where the woman’s son’s equipment was stolen.

“It’s nice to see some people get justice, hopefully fewer people will be victimized,” she said in an interview from her home.

On Friday, Su posted $150,000 in cash bail to escape.

The other 11 suspects charged in the warrant appear to have not been arrested.

Authorities said they wanted to hear from potential victims of the alleged conspiracy active in Minneapolis’ popular bar district, as more charges could be filed. Given the racketeering charges, some defendants could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

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