Identity theft is something we know happens but rarely think about until it happens to you. In this case, the accused targeted a friend, allegedly stole his identity and left the man and his family stranded in New York — all under the guise of a job offer to good to be true.
The elaborate scheme allegedly went on for months but it wasn’t until the suspect allegedly attempted to rent an apartment on island that the truth was uncovered.
In the driver’s license a local realtor received as part of the rental lease, the photo was not that of Benjamin David Myers. The man in the driver’s license photo, as the realtor and federal authorities uncovered, is Evan Montvel-Cohen, a businessman and alleged thief dubbed the Air America Scam Artist.
Montvel-Cohen was arrested Tuesday night at the Guam International Airport where he was attempting to board a flight to the Philippines.
The charge against him? Identity theft.
Federal authorities believe that he assumed the identity of a former associate and friend, Benjamin David Myers, in order to acquire a rental space.
Under the guise of Myers’ identity, Montvel-Cohen allegedly sent emails and text correspondence to a Guam-based realtor along with the fake driver’s license in November 2019. He allegedly told the realtor that he was an employee of Choice Digital and that his company would pay up to three months’ rent in advance.
It wasn’t until January that the realtor discovered that the man portraying himself as Myers was in fact Montvel-Cohen.
The realtor contacted the real Benjamin Myers and told him his identity had been stolen.
The real Myers lives 8,242 miles away in Holiday, Florida and has known Montvel-Cohen since 2011 when Myers was stationed on Guam with the military. The two maintained their friendship over the years.
Court documents state that in May 2019, Myers reached out to Montvel-Cohen about employment with C2Social and Montvel-Cohen hired him.
Montvel-Cohen obtained Myers’ personal and banking information by allegedly agreeing to pay off all of Myers’ debt, pay for the relocation of Myers and his family and also provide a place for them to live when they arrived on Guam.
But the check Montvel-Cohen deposited to Myers’ account allegedly bounced. By this time, Myers and his family had already traveled to New York to catch a plane to Guam. The family was left stranded in New York for months before they made their way back to Florida and called off the job deal.
Montvel-Cohen entered into an Alford plea in Hawaii in 2009 to one count of first-degree theft, admitting to stealing about $30,000 from a Waimanalo landscaping company in 2005. The remaining charges of credit card fraud, forgery, and money laundering were dismissed as a result of the plea agreement.
A detention hearing at the District Court of Guam for Montvel-Cohen was rescheduled to Wednesday.
Attorney Curtis Van de Veld states that his client Montvel-Cohen is under medical investigation at this time.