Pair Of Accused iPhone Scammers From New York Caught In Wyoming

Attentive employees at a Sheridan Verizon store caught a pair of New York men allegedly winding through the region stealing identities and buying iPhones with people's phone account information. They’re both facing felony charges.

Clair McFarland

May 20, 20244 min read

A pair of men from Bronx, New York, are accused of stealing identities and trying to scam this Verizon store at 1875 Coffeen Ave. Suite A in Sheridan out of new iPhones.
A pair of men from Bronx, New York, are accused of stealing identities and trying to scam this Verizon store at 1875 Coffeen Ave. Suite A in Sheridan out of new iPhones. (Google)

Sheridan police say they have caught a serial iPhone thief who scams people out of their Verizon credentials and charges new phones to their accounts in Verizon stores in Wyoming and Montana.

Police also arrested the alleged thief’s getaway driver, court documents say, adding that both men are from Bronx, New York.

Rangel Diaz, who turns 26 this year, faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted of three counts of identity theft and a fourth of attempted theft, in the reported scheme of visiting Verizon stores to buy up iPhones on stolen account credentials.

Yoharlin Mercedes-Jimenez, who turns 28 this year, could face up to three years, six months behind bars on accusations of being Diaz’s getaway driver, and endangering people in the Sheridan Albertson’s parking lot during the escape attempt.

Mercedes-Jimenez’s case rose to the felony-level Sheridan County District Court last week. In that same court last week, Diaz pleaded not guilty.

‘Go! Go!’

Into the Verizon store on Coffeen Avenue, Sheridan, walked a man in a tan Carhartt jacket and a grey ball cap April 23, according to an evidentiary affidavit filed in both cases.

Store authorities believed the man was buying phones with fraudulent credit cards or false credentials.

Verizon territory manager Patrick Schaaf gathered up information from other stores and discovered surveillance video from a store in Belgrade, Montana, of an alleged thief who had “hit” the store by buying up phones with fake credentials, the document says. 

Sheridan Police Officer Jack Stanley arrived to find Schaaf outside the store. The officer spoke with the territory manager briefly, but then reportedly watched Diaz walk out the store and head toward a nearby Albertson’s store. 

Stanley talked with Diaz briefly, but then Diaz bolted for the Albertson’s parking lot, hopped into a black 2019 Subaru Forrester and told the driver, “Go! Go!” says the affidavit. 

The document says Stanley was close enough to the car to touch it before it sped off through the bustling parking lot.

Stanley yelled out “stop!” He also “clearly” caught the profile image of the driver, later identified as Mercedes-Jimenez. 

Stanley reportedly noticed Diaz had dropped a cellphone during his run. 

Stanley radioed to other agents the car’s description and direction, then went back into the store to investigate the incident further. 

A Verizon employee used the dropped phone’s Siri function to call the store, and the store’s caller ID system identified the phone as belonging to a different man — neither Diaz nor Mercedes-Jimenez. 

Stanley would learn from Verizon employees that they knew about ongoing identity-theft schemes being used to buy cellphones. 

The store manager had noticed a few red flags about Diaz’s attempt to buy phones, the affidavit says. 

For example, he at first gave the wrong email address for the account to which he was trying to charge a new phone. He had to look up the account address that was supposed to be his own. He also allegedly wasn’t concerned about the price of buying multiple $1,200 phones. 

Chase Ends

Stanley was investigating these things while listening to updates on the pursuit. By this time, Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Erick Horsely was following the suspect vehicle on Interstate 90. 

Wyoming Highway Patrol and sheriff’s deputies conducted a high-risk traffic stop and arrested both men, taking them to the police department for questioning. 

Stanley also called the manager of the Verizon store in Powell and learned, reportedly, that a man matching Diaz’s description had entered the Powell store one day earlier wearing diamond stud earrings, a white hat, grey coat and jeans. 

The man bought two iPhones using a Colorado identification card and credentials there, allegedly. Each phone was worth about $1,300 each. Then the man bought two more phones “for his mother and father,” says the affidavit. 


When given their Miranda warnings at the police station, neither Diaz nor Mercedes-Jimenez would talk to police, says the affidavit. 

Stanley called a different Verizon store in Sheridan, this one on Main Street. The affidavit says he spoke with an employee who said a man matching Diaz’s description had entered the store that day, saying he needed to upgrade his phone since his other one was broken.

There, the man allegedly bought two iPhones worth $1,400 each. 

Clair McFarland can be reached at

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter