Category Archives: Identity Theft Cases

Real life identity theft cases from across the country.

Long Term Effects Of ID Theft

long term effects of ID TheftIt’s been over 2 years now since Robert Bryant discovered he was to appear in court for a DWI in Grain Valley even though he had never been arrested for DWI and certainly not in Grain Valley – he’s pretty sure he would have remembered.

Turns out he had been a victim of ID theft and the real person who had been arrested for drink driving had given Bryant’s details and set him up as the criminal.

Luckily for Bryant the resulting mugshot proved he was in fact the victim of ID theft and wasn’t the man arrested but his problems didn’t end there.

Months later a Missouri law firm began chasing him for $11,000 in damages. They had his name, SSN, address details and when he asked where they had got all his personal information from they dropped the bombshell that he had been involved in an accident on 40 highway in Independence, Missouri.

“They started reading off all my personal information, my drivers license and social security number, and I’m like how did you get this information? They said you were in an accident on 40 highway in Independence, Missouri,” Bryant told Fox4 News.

A little more digging and he then discovers there are 2 more warrants out for his arrest. The criminal who had been involved in the accident had provided Bryant’s name and address yet again at the scene of an accident and as there is no law that requires someone to produce any ID when asked to identify themselves by the police, the officer had to accept the criminal was telling the truth.

Bryant had covinced the prosecuters that it was a case of ID theft and they dropped the case soon after. Unfortunately the law firm weren’t so easily convinced and continued to hound Mr. Bryant for damages until eventually he was forced to hire his own lawyer who got the lawsuit dropped – seems lawyers believe lawyers.

Robert Bryant now carries special papers that prove he has been the victim of ID theft. If he should ever be pulled over or actually be involved in an accident without those papers, then he would almost certainly find himself locked up on an outstanding warrant or two.

Joe says: A case that shows just how the long term effects of ID theft can keep coming back at you for years. It’s not just a case of having to close your bank accounts and cancel your cards, someone can be out there ruining your good name for years to come.

While there may not be a law in Missouri requiring a person to produce identification to the police, giving false details is classed as forgery and that’s a felony. Of course, if the criminal knows there are outstanding warrants for them and they are going to prison if they provide their real details they are likely to provide false information.

I believe in most states a driver is required to produce a drivers license if so asked by a police officer.

Source: Fox4

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Mailbox Thief Charged With Identity Theft

mailbox thiefA man faces 2 years for aggravated identity theft and 15 years for fraud after he stole a credit card in the mailbox of one of the homes he visited whilst carrying out his job delivering a local newspaper.

Andre Tyler from Germantown, Maryland, took the Discover credit card from the mailbox and then activated it. He then used the card to go on a shopping spree in his local town. The Maryland Gazette reported the case saying:

According to the plea agreement, Tyler took a Discover credit card from the mailbox of a house on Griffith Road in Laytonsville and activated the card. On March 27, Tyler used the card to buy gas and make purchases at Germantown Auto Spa, Pep Boys, Advance Auto Parts, Euro Motorcars and Hot Tint Speed and Sound. On April 11, Discover suspended the card. On April 19, Tyler called Discover Financial, pretended to be the homeowner at the Griffith Road address and reactivated the card. From March 27 to April 26, Tyler charged $4,744.76 to the card, according to the plea agreement.

Tyler had been delivering The Examiner in the Damascus, Etchison and Laytonsville area for nine or 10 months before his arrest, according to Montgomery County charging documents. He started taking mail from mailboxes sometime before Christmas 2010, according to the documents.      Source: Maryland Gazette

Joe Says:

If you have ordered a new credit card or your debit/store card is running out so you are expecting a new one – and it doesn’t show up promptly then ring the company up and ask when/if it has been sent. It is in their interests to get your credit card to you as fast as possible – the sooner you have it the sooner you can start using it – so you are not going to be waiting weeks for it.

If they did send it promptly then ask if it has been activated and if so get them to cancel it immediately and then contact your local police to report it. Even if it hasn’t been activated but it seems to have gone ‘missing in action’ I would recommend you cancel it and ask them to issue a new one.

Mailbox theft is one of the easiest ways a criminal can carry out identity theft and it seems to be on the increase. I personally use a PO box and have done for years just for the peace of mind. It’s cheaper than you may think and although it can be inconvenient at times, removing the risk of both mailbox theft and identity theft makes it a small price to pay as far as I am concerned.

Facebook Identity Theft

facebook identity theftIn a case that could have far reaching consequences for cyber speech, a US Judge has ruled that a New Jersey woman can be prosecuted for Facebook identity theft after she set up a fake account in her ex boyfriends name and then posted comments so that people would believe it was him responsible for writing them.

Dana Thornton set up the Facebook page using photo’s and personal information she had and knew about her former boyfriend – a New Jersey narcotics police detective.

Some of the comments heard in court  included “I’m a sick piece of scum with a gun” and that he “was high all the time” and that he regularly visited prostitutes.

According to an article in Stuff the case revolves around a New Jersey law that makes it illegal to benefit from or to injure or defraud someone by impersonating them. The article says:

Lawyer Richard Roberts, representing Thornton, attempted to have the case dismissed on the grounds that the law makes no mention of electronic communications. New Jersey’s legislature is reviewing an amendment that would add that provision to the law.

Roberts argued that the mere fact that the law could be amended amounts to a tacit admission that the current one doesn’t cover his client’s alleged actions.

“How do you quantify the harm?” he asked. “There was no money involved. We live in the real world where words are thrown around all the time. How does that rise to the level of what is in this statute?”

State Superior Court Judge David Ironson disagreed and said the law was “clear and unambiguous”.

“The fact that the means of committing the crime are not set forth in the statute doesn’t lead to the conclusion that the defendant didn’t commit the crime,” he said.

This is the first case of Facebook identity theft in the State and amending New Jersey identity theft law would probably mean reviewing others according to social media law expert Megan Erickson.

“If the legislature specifically references online conduct in one statute, should it take an inventory of how all others laws may apply in the context of the internet and amend them as well?” she told Stuff.

While another lawyer who specializes in online law is expecting to see many more cases like the one here although he believes this particular case could prove difficult for the prosecution due to the way the law is written in the State of New Jersey.

“This specific situation sounds like it may be better handled in civil rather than criminal court,” he said. “It’s very tough to say this is a violation of the law.” he said.

Joe Says: Because they tend to be home to the celebrities both California and New York were quick to have laws in place to combat online identity theft but all other states are trailing behind these cyber times.

While no monetary gain is sought in these types of cases it is the ruining of your good name that the perpetrator is after. There are certain companies that will charge a monthly fee to monitor the web for any mention of your name so that you can quickly stamp something out before it gets out of hand.

However, there is no need to pay for this as Google will let you do it for free. Go to Google and and click on ‘news’ and then search for your name in commas. Let’s use  “joe bloggs”as an example.

Scroll to the end of the results and you will see a link that says “Create an email alert for joe bloggs.” Simply click on that and then for ‘Type’ select ‘all’ and leave the rest as they are – click on ‘create alert’ when you are done with the settings.

Now, should someone write something about you or someone with your name, Google will email you with direct links to where it is.

Should you find something derogatory about you on a social network site like Facebook it is always best to not respond. Visit the help section and find out how to report abuse and policy violations and do it.

Most social network companies are well aware that because the remarks are on their servers and sites any legal action by you against the person responsible could well get messy for them so will act quickly to remove anything deemed derogatory or offensive.

In this particular case of Facebook identity theft Dana Thornton was in breach of the Facebook terms of service and the victim would certainly have a strong case should they opt for a civil action.

Source: Stuff

Illinois Man Steals Step Fathers Identity

family identity theftWillis Yurs has been charged with aggravated identity theft – a class 1 felony which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

A 67 year old man complained to the Waterman St Police Department in Sycamore, Illinois that he thought his former stepson – Willis Yurs – had stolen his identity and was using it to open credit card accounts.

According to court documents Yurs used his former step fathers name, address and social security number to purchase goods from 25 different stores as well as obtaining credit cards. Over a year he spent over $24,000

Yurs had bail set at $100,000 when he made his first court appearance at the county courthouse in Sycamore.

Joe says: When someone has their identity stolen the first thought is that it is some faceless criminal who has managed to hack their computer or gone through the trash but in reality it is much more likely that you will know the thief as it can often be an opportunistic crime.

Invest in a strong box or small safe and keep documents such as your social security card in it. Shred or burn any documents with personal information on them as soon as you are done with them. Don’t leave them lying around the house for anyone to see, including your extended family.

Nobody likes to think the worst of anyone but how well do you really know your Son’s friends, your Daughters boyfriend, your Sister’s new man etc? There is no point in putting temptation in front of them by leaving bank statements or other personal information lying around.

Account Restored For Victim Of Bank Fraud

bank fraudA victim of bank fraud who had $6000 taken from her savings account has had the money refunded by her bank.

The identity thief – a woman closely resembling the victim – walked into the Elburn branch of the American Bank & Trust and requested a withdrawal of $4000.

A bank teller asked for identification and was presented with an Arizona drivers license in the same name as the account holders. The license listed a physical description that matched the criminal. As a further precaution the teller then asked for a social security number and the correct one was provided.

After successfully withdrawing the $4000 the criminal then filled out another withdrawal slip for a further $2000 which she was given.

Just four days later on September 20th the bank received a sworn statement from the real account holder saying the money had been taken out of her account without her consent.

Local news site The Kane County Chronical reported the case saying:

Police said she (the victim) claimed her wallet had been stolen on July 3 at a bar in Chicago. She reported that theft to Chicago Police right after the incident.

The bank restored all money taken from the woman’s account and reported the incident to Elburn Police late last month. Police said they are investigating the incident, and were provided video images of the woman who had withdrawn the money.

Elburn Police Chief Steven Smith said the incident could be linked to a similar incident in Batavia. Officials with the Batavia Police Department, however, did not immediately make any information pertaining to the case available and a message left Friday with a Batavia Police commanding officer was not returned.

Joe says: While the victim was able to get her money back she could have prevented the identity thief from successfully stealing the money in the first place had she informed the bank about her stolen wallet some 8 weeks earlier.

If you have your wallet stolen or lost always assume the worst – it is now in the hands of an identity thief.

You should as soon as you possibly can cancel all your credit, debit and store cards and contact your bank and have them set up a new account for you and close your old one. Then contact the credit bureaus to let them know you may well be at risk from identity theft and have a fraud alert placed on your file.

A fraud alert will last for 90 days and means the identity thief will find it very difficult to open up any new lines of credit in your name. It can only prevent new lines of credit though, it will not protect you from bank fraud so you still need to close all your accounts.

Source: Kane County Chronical

Check Fraud Strikes Sherrifs Office

check fraudWhen inmates left county jail they were paid any commissary funds due by check from the Greene County Sherrif’s Office.

On average 52 inmates are released from the jail per day and most of them with a check in their pocket so the law of averages tells you it was only a matter of time before one of those criminals would use the information found on the check to commit check fraud – they are known criminals after all!

Here’s the local news report

Joe says: If you purchase something from someone you don’t know – say on ebay or an online store – then use a money order or Paypal. A check has your name, routing number and other bank details on it and that’s enough for any criminal to commit check fraud.

Source: KSPR

New York City Hotel Auditor Charged With Identity Theft

credit card theftLukasz Kruk was the auditor for New York hotel chain Amsterdam Hospitality Group who own a chain of 8 boutique hotels in the city.

As the auditor he had access to thousands of guests private details including their credit card information. According to prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office Kruk took customers private data and sold it to a Barry Herndon who used it to purchase airline tickets for himself and friends.

Over 3 years he used credit card information stolen from 237 hotel guests and spent a total of $840,000 on the airline tickets and other items.

According to Business week:

Lukasz Kruk and Barry Herndon pleaded not guilty to grand larceny, identity theft and other charges Friday.

Prosecutors say Kruk was an auditor for the Amsterdam Hospitality Group and had access to guests’ credit card data. They say Herndon bought tickets for himself and other people with information Kruk took.

Amsterdam Hospitality Group haven’t responded to a request for comment. Source: Business Week

Joe says: Check your credit card statements with a fine tooth comb and look for anything out of the ordinary. Identity thieves are a clever bunch and usually don’t simply max out a card because they know this kills the card straight away.

They will spend a little here and there and see if it goes unnoticed and if it does they will then gradually increase the amount they spend each month until eventually the victim realizes and stops the card.

Unfortunately by then the damage is done. Services purchased such as flights have been used, goods bought have been sold on etc.

In this particular case the thieves were targeting affluent hotel guests and rightly assumed there was less chance of anything being noticed as the credit cards would be getting a lot of use. The more you use your credit and debit cards the more vigilant you need to be when checking your statements.

4 Year Jail Term For Identity Theft

mailbox theftA court in Fairbanks, Alaska yesterday sentenced Jeremy James Frericks to 3 years and 9 months in jail and ordered him to pay $14,293 to his identity theft victims.

He had reached a deal with the prosecution and pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft and being a felon armed with a gun.

The local paper reported:

In January 2008, Frericks was caught in with a series of 11 state ID cards for different people, all with his picture on them, according to the written plea agreement.

He admitted stealing one victim’s Permanent Fund dividend check as well as using checks stolen from mailboxes and identities of other victims to make purchases at Fairbanks businesses.

He was caught after a housekeeper at an Anchorage hotel noticed a handgun left behind in a room Frericks had been using. The hotel called police and would not give Frericks the gun back when he returned for it. Frericks is not authorized to carry a handgun because he was convicted of felony fraud in 2006.

He evaded Anchorage police in vehicle and foot chases, but was eventually found in a basement. Police found a a wallet with his real ID and the 11 forged IDs in the entry to the basement.

To cut down the risk of thieves using your mail to steal your identity you should convert as much as possible to electronic mail. If you use online banking for instance, there is no need to have your bank send you a paper statement and most banks, credit cards, store cards etc. will nowadays let you opt out of paper statements.

If mail theft is a problem in your area or you recieve checks regularly in the post, consider investing in a PO box. They are not expensive and cut out the possibility of you becoming a victim of identity theft via your mail.

Source: Newsminer