Editorial: Stealing from the Surfside victims is about as low as you can get | Editorial

It was hard to imagine what could have made the Surfside condo collapse worse. And then we heard about the thieves who stole the identities of some of the victims.

Aventura Police Chief Bryan Pegues called their actions “despicable.” To that we would add: “loathsome.”

This gang — police have arrested three people from Miami-Dade County — stole the identities of victims, opening credit and bank cards in their names and stealing at least $45,000, the Miami Herald reported Wednesday. They bought a $374 pair of sandals. They bought a Versace purse worth about $1,700. These “cyber-grave robbers” also tried unsuccessfully to make another $67,000 in purchases and withdrawals, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said.

It takes a special kind of stone-cold heartlessness to prey on people during a tragedy like this. The collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo was one of the worst building failures in U.S. history. It killed 98 when it fell on June 24. We were horrified. We mourned. We were in pain.

But apparently not all of us. Some were busy figuring out how to benefit from the darkest moments of others. The identity theft gang used the identities of at least seven victims, five of whom died in the collapse.

It was the sister of Ana Ortiz — who died in the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo along with her son, her husband and other members of her family — who spotted suspicious transactions. Nicole Ortiz told the Herald she noticed strange email notifications popping up on her sister’s iPad. She was writing her sister’s eulogy at the time.

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