ORLANDO, Fla. - On Friday, more than 400 people lined up for lunch in downtown Orlando. It's places like that where Orlando police said large scale criminal organizations are recruiting the homeless to help commit crimes.
Three suspects who were arrested in connection with the case were arrested this week. They were identified as Francie Guerrier, Danny Benoit and Colbert Romaine.
Police said the three would convince homeless who still had good credit to buy iPhones and sign up for a two-year plan using a bogus address.
The suspects would then pay the homeless $50 for each phone and the resell them in south Florida, police said.
Homeless people need money, but some still have good credit, so the crooks will use a homeless person and their personal information to commit a financial crime, authorities said.
And if something goes wrong, it's often the homeless person who gets arrested.
Investigators said when they searched the suspects' car, a bag of iPhones was found hidden inside the spare tire compartment. Those phones were registered to other people, police said.
More than a dozen homeless people told Channel 9 it's a widespread problem in the area.
"This guy comes around and starts yelling, '$50. Today you can make $50 for each phone you
sell,'" said witness Charles Yost.
Yost was willing to talk on camera, but others said they feared retaliation, saying someone in the criminal organization would kill them for talking about the operation.
Besides phones, the homeless said they were often offered a similar deal to cash bogus checks at banks across the area.
Investigators said it's all part of an ongoing investigation.