San Diego

Eight people have been arrested and at least four others are being sought on charges that they stole military identification cards and, in some cases, used them to cash income tax refund checks stolen from the Navy helicopter carrier Tripoli.

The FBI learned of the scheme last week through an informant and on Monday sent an undercover agent to purchase 10 identification cards for $80 each from three suspects, according to FBI spokesman Jim Bolenbach. Five other suspects have since been arrested, Bolenbach said.

The cards were sold "for almost every use you can think of," Bolenbach said. Some went to teen-agers who wanted to get into nightclubs, some to smugglers of illegal aliens, and some to foreign nationals, he said. The suspects made a substantial amount of money by using some of the cards to cash the stolen tax refund checks, he said.

The suspects include active and retired Navy personnel and civilians, Bolenbach said. The extent of the scheme is not known, but the Naval Investigative Service, the U.S. Secret Service, and the Office of the Postal Inspector have joined the investigation, he said.

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