BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — 7 Eyewitness News has now confirmed that one of the eight people arrested as part of a child identity theft scheme worked for Buffalo Public Schools as a security officer.
Cynthia Lockwood, 53, of Williamsville was arraigned last week before Amherst Town Court Judge Geoffrey Klein on one count of Identity Theft in the First Degree and one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree.
Those are felony charges that could result in prison time up to seven (7) years if convicted.
According to Erie County District Attorney John Flynn, Lockwood is accused of using a 12-year-old victim's personal identifying information to obtain more than $25,000 in credit from various creditors.
Cynthia Lockwood is a cousin of Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood - who declined to comment on her arrest.
The following statement was released by Buffalo Public Schools:
"Ms. Lockwood has been employed by the district since 2010, most recently as a security officer. She is currently on administrative leave. This investigation is open and ongoing pending further arrest information. Given that it is a criminal matter, we will not comment any further."
New York State Police and the Office of the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration (OIG SSA) worked together on the investigation which began in November 2017.
Prosecutors say a ringleader, Darrius Outling, 49, of Buffalo, illegally obtained social security numbers belonging to children aged 11-15 from across the United States. Outling then provided the social security numbers to Lockwood and six others who used the information to make $420,000 in fraudulent purchases.
District Attorney Flynn said investigators believe no local children had their personal information compromised as the stolen ID's came from Florida and other parts of the country.
However, Flynn is warning parents to be extra careful with their children's social security information as criminals view it as an easy way to make fraudulent purchases.
Reporter Ed Reilly will have more on this story tonight.