Archive for February, 2012

IRS new target of identity theft – WCSH

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC) -Identity thieves have taken their larceny to the next level. They’re targeting the Internal Revenue Service, and in the process stealing from hundreds of thousands of taxpayers.

The I.R.S. says identity thieves are stalking taxpayers, especially those filing tax returns online.

An identity thief thief can submit a phony tax return and get a refund using the Social Security numbers of someone else’s children.

To avoid this, they advise you shred documents that may have your family’s Social Security numbers on them regularly.

Also, keep a close eye on your mailbox and make sure your mail doesn’t stay in it overnight.

Also remember the I.R.S. never initiates contact with taxpayers by email or social media to request personal or financial information.

An I.R.S crackdown on identity thieves stealing other people’s tax refunds resulted in over 100 arrests in 23 states last month.

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"Fast" Eddie Faces New Indictment for Fraud, Firearms, Identity Theft

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

(Springfield, MO) — A man arrested in the Ozarks
who was wanted for nearly two decades for a crime in England faces new charges.

U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips says
“Fast” Eddie Maher, 56, has been charged in a three-count indictment
returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield for illegally possessing
firearms, document fraud and identity theft. This
replaces a federal criminal complaint filed on February 9, 2012.

remains in federal custody. He was wanted in England for a $1.5 million bank delivery heist in 1993; he
was arrested in Ozark, Missouri Wednesday. He was living there under his
brother’s name.

new indictment alleges that Maher used a Social Security card as an
identification document for employment verification in Christian County on May 25, 2010.
The indictment alleges that the Social Security card was not issued lawfully
for Maher’s use.

is also charged with aggravated identity theft. Maher allegedly possessed and
used a means of identification that he knew belonged to another person. This
charge is related to Maher’s alleged use of a Missouri driver’s license in the
name of his brother, Michael Maher, on October 12, 2011.

indictment also includes the charge that was contained in the original criminal
complaint. The indictment alleges that Maher, an illegal alien, was in
possession of a Hi-Point .45-caliber pistol, a Jennings .380 pistol, a Mauser
7.62×39 rifle, a Mossberg .22-caliber rifle and ammunition on Feb. 8, 2012.
The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation, which would require Maher
to forfeit those firearms to the government.

to an affidavit filed in support of the original criminal complaint, the Ozark
Police Department received information on Monday, Feb. 6, 2012,
regarding a fugitive from England who allegedly stole a large amount of cash
while working as a security guard. Ozark police officers and FBI agents
conducted surveillance of Maher until he was arrested on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012.

Maher allegedly told federal agents that he began
working in the United States in 1998 and has been using the identity of his
brother, Michael Maher, who lives in England. Police officers seized the
firearms from Maher’s residence and from a storage facility in Ozark. Under
federal law, it is unlawful for an illegal alien to possess any firearms or

(Courtesy: U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips)

Previous Reports
“Fast” Eddie Maher’s Daughter-in-Law Speaks About Case

“Fast” Eddie Maher’s
Daughter-in-Law Says She Tipped Off Police

New Photo of “Fast” Eddie
Maher; No Charges Yet in England

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FTC: ID theft again tops consumer concerns

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Identity theft was the top complaint filed by U.S. residents to the Federal Trade Commission in 2011, with Internet-related fraud also a top concern, the agency said Tuesday.

Fifteen percent of the 1.8 million complaints the FTC received through its online Consumer Sentinel Network involved ID theft, the agency said.

Fifty-five percent of the complaints involved some type of other fraud, and of the people who reported where that fraud originated, 43 percent said email and 13 percent said a website. Twenty-nine percent of the fraud complaints started with a phone call, the FTC said.

Under identity theft, government benefits or documents fraud made up 27 percent of the complaints, credit card fraud made up 14 percent and telephone or utilities fraud made up 13 percent, the FTC said.

Identity theft made up 17 percent of the complaints to the FTC in 2010 and 20 percent of the complaints in 2009. The FTC received 1.5 million complaints through the online database in 2010, and 1.4 million in 2009. Since 2001, the number of complaints has risen every year except for one.

The online database is an “incredibly powerful tool for law enforcers who are working to protect consumers and go after the bad guys,” David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “It’s used by agencies across the country and around the world to enhance their enforcement efforts.”

Other federal and state law enforcement agencies contribute complaints to the Consumer Sentinel Network, including the U. S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Internet Crime Complaint Center and the offices of eight state attorneys general. Other organizations that contribute complaints include all U.S. and Canadian members of the Better Business Bureau, Western Union and Moneygram.

Debt collection complaints were 10 percent of the total complaints in 2011, the agency said. Prizes, sweepstakes and lottery complaints made up 6 percent. Complaints about Internet services were the sixth largest category, at about 5 percent, and complaints about telephone and mobile services ranked ninth, with 4 percent.

The median loss for all the fraud complaints — not including ID theft — was US$537, the FTC said.

Florida was the state with the highest per capita rate of reported ID theft complaints, followed by Georgia and California. Colorado was the state with the highest per capita rate of reported fraud and other complaints, followed by Delaware and Maryland.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant’s e-mail address is

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SALISBURY CRIME: Identity theft to avoid apprehension

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

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City officials said they needed to change how sewer projects are funded because the Barrett Law was unpopular and thousands of septic systems in Marion County are failing.

The city argues it had three choices for how to transition to the new system. It could have continued to collect on the more than 40 projects that still had outstanding balances, a process that would take nearly 30 years. It could have refunded every payment ever made under the old program, which would have cost a lot of money and been “an administrative nightmare.” Or, as the city decided to do, it could make a clean break from the old system.

That latter choice meant a windfall for the neighbors who hadn’t fully paid for their hookup, the city acknowledges.

“But envy does not a constitutional violation make,” the city wrote in its Supreme Court brief in advance of Wednesday’s oral arguments.

“As long as the government is even-handed about applying the effective date, there is simply no constitutional issue implicated,” the city’s attorneys wrote.

Groups representing state and local governments chimed in that the Supreme Court should not second guess a government’s decision to forgive debt, “particularly when everyone got what they paid for.” If the high court sides against Indianapolis, the groups said in their brief, then numerous policy decisions by local governments may also be challenged as unconstitutional.

“Within and outside the governmental context, creditors of all kinds forgive debt every day,” wrote lawyers for the International City/County Management Association, the National Association of Counties, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

But the homeowners argue that every state supreme court that has looked at tax-forgiveness programs have said they can’t favor taxpayers who paid in installments over those who paid upfront.

The city chose an unfair process just because it was cheaper and more convenient than doing what was right, attorneys for the homeowners say.

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US regulators propose rules to protect against identity theft

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Tue Feb 28, 2012 2:35pm EST

* SEC, CFTC propose identity theft protection rule

* Rule is required by the Dodd-Frank law

* Firms would need to develop programs to protect investors

* Proposed rule not considered controversial

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON, Feb 28 (Reuters) – New rules proposed by
federal market regulators on Tuesday would require mutual funds
and securities and commodities brokerages to develop programs to
protect investors against identity theft.

The proposal, issued jointly by the U.S. Securities and
Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission,
stems from a requirement in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street
overhaul law.

That provision in the law transferred some authority over
certain parts of the Fair Credit Reporting Act from the Federal
Trade Commission to the SEC and CFTC. The Fair Credit Reporting
law sets standards for the collection, communication, and use of
information about consumers by consumer reporting agencies.

The SEC and CFTC’s proposal would require certain firms they
regulate to come up with a written identity theft program with
certain policies and procedures. Under that program, financial
firms would need to identify and detect red flags, respond to
them and update the program as needed.

The proposal is similar to rules that were already adopted
by the FTC and several other federal financial regulators in

The SEC and CFTC issued the proposed rules after
commissioners at each agency voted behind closed doors to seek
public comments on the plan.

The identity-theft provision in Dodd-Frank has not been
considered controversial, and has not received widespread media

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Identity thefts tops list of consumer complaints

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — For the 12th year in a row, identity theft was the number one consumer complaint — irking consumers more than debt collectors, imposter scams and shady credit repair companies.

Out of the more than 1.8 million complaints the Federal Trade Commission received last year, 15% — or 279,156 — were about identity theft. The FTC’s database includes complaints filed directly to the FTC, as well as complaints from other state and federal consumer protection organizations.

Most identity theft complaints came from people reporting that their personal information was stolen and used in government documents — often to collect government benefits. Complaints about government document-related identity theft have increased 11% since 2009 and represented 27% of identity theft complaints last year. Credit card fraud was next, making up 14% of identity theft complaints, followed by phone or utilities fraud and bank fraud.

Of the people filing identity theft complaints, 70% notified a police department, the FTC found. Florida has the highest per capita rate of reported identity theft in 2011, followed by Georgia and California.

After identity theft, consumers filed the most complaints about debt collection, which made up 10% of total complaints last year. Next on the list were complaints about prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries, followed by shop-at-home and catalog sales. Financial services and lending, including banks and lenders, advance-fee loans and credit protection and repair services, were prominent among the top 10 complaints, as were issues with internet, telephone and mobile service providers and charges.

Other top 10 complaints included auto-related issues, including misleading auto warranties, repair and maintenance issues and price gouging. Imposter scams, where scammers pose as friends, family, government agencies or companies to trick consumers into sending them money, were also on the list.

Overall, 55% of complaints were fraud-related last year. Consumers reported paying more than $1.5 billion in fraudulent schemes, and the median amount paid was $537. About 43% of consumers said scammers contacted them by e-mail.

Colorado had the highest per capita rate of reported fraud and other complaints, followed by Delaware and Maryland.

In general, the FTC found that consumers either had more to complain about or were just more willing to file complaints. The total number of consumer complaints — including both fraud- and identity theft-related complaints — has jumped more than 20% from 1.5 million in 2010 to 1.8 million last year.

Here are the the top 10 consumer complaints, according to the FTC:

  1. Identity theft
  2. Debt collection
  3. Prizes, sweepstakes, lotteries
  4. Shop-at-home, catalog sales
  5. Banks and lenders
  6. Internet services
  7. Auto-related complaints
  8. Impostor scams
  9. Telephone and mobile services
  10. Advance-fee loans and credit protection/repair
  11.  To top of page

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Illegal immigrants turning to ID theft to evade tougher scrutiny

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

(FOX 25 / – Raquel Souza remembers how much her father’s girlfriend looked like her father’s former wife – her mother – right down to the haircut.

“I remember coming to see my dad and having looked at her and thinking, ‘Wow, she kind of looks like my mom,'” Souza said.

It turned out the woman wasn’t just looking like Raquel Souza’s mother. She had, on paper, become the same person as Raquel Souza’s mother, turning herself from an illegal immigrant from Brazil into Souza’s mother, a legal Brazilian immigrant with a valid Social Security number.

That case of identity fraud is taking years for the victim to try and untangle because the phony Sonia Souza started a cleaning company, opened credit cards, and bank accounts and bought vehicles.

The woman who assumed her identity was also called Sonia, but her real last name was Nardino, and she was even able to obtain a Massachusetts driver’s license under her assumed name -Sonia Souza.

“She wanted to be in the United States and work and make money but she could never do it being here illegally and not having a Social Security number, so she found the opportunity and took it,” Raquel Souza said.

However, she couldn’t keep the opportunity forever. By the time FOX Undercover showed up at Nardino’s Lowell apartment, she had been arrested and detained by immigration authorities, and she was later deported. Her husband, Timothy Quinn, was there. He had a different version of events.

Quinn says his wife purchased the identity from a relative so she could enter the country, but stopped using it several years ago.

“My understanding is my wife did not steal this woman’s identity,” Quinn told FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet “My understanding is she sold it” to the “real” Sonia (Souza) Robinson.

The real Sonia Souza, who has since remarried and changed her last name to Robinson, denies selling her own identity. However it happened, it’s just one example of a growing trend of ID theft among illegal immigrants trying to live and work in the United States.

“It’s a huge issue, and we have only really seen the tip of the iceberg,” said Jessica Vaughan with the Center for Immigration Studies.

Vaughan says identity theft is on the rise thanks in part to a government program called e-Verify that’s supposed to stop illegal immigrants from being hired.

“People actually need to find a bona fide Social Security number instead of a fake one. Something like 1 in 3 new hires now is screened through e-Verify. So it’s much harder to just make up a Social Security number or green card number and expect that you’re actually going to get through the screening process,” Vaughan said.

The government could take additional steps to verify identity, but Vaughan says the cooperation just isn’t there.

“The federal government and even state government do have the authority to try to crack down on this to protect the real owners of those numbers, but I haven’t seen very much activity in that area, certainly not here in Massachusetts,” she said.

One Massachusetts official, Registrar of Motor Vehicles Rachel Kaprielian, acknowledged ID theft is a “growing problem” but said, “We in Massachusetts are really as cutting edge as one can get.”

The Registry of Motor Vehicles uses facial recognition software and other methods to stop the great majority of ID thieves, Kaprielian said. But she admits staffing at the RMV’s enforcement bureau has been cut, and technology can’t catch everything.

One thing that would help states like Massachusetts crack down on ID fraud is to make sure registries in different states are sharing information so they would know if two different people have applied for a license under one person’s name and Social Security number. That’s one of the goal’s of the federal REAL ID Act of 2005, but Kaprielian says Massachusetts and most other states haven’t met all the law’s goals.

In the case of the two Sonias, one was able to get a driver’s license in the other’s name because the real Sonia Souza had never applied for a Massachusetts driver’s license, Kaprielian said.

“Is it potentially easy for a case like that to slip through the system?” Beaudet asked her.

“When you have legitimate documents and you don’t have a different image by which to judge the difference, than (it can be),” Kaprielian replied.

Raquel Souza and her mother are left wondering how it was so easy.

“She registered her firm in a day, she bought a car in a day,” Raquel Souza said. “My mom has been like two-and-a-half years trying to prove that someone else is living as her and I think that is just ridiculous.”

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ID Theft Complaints On The Rise

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

 (AP) – Identity theft complaints involving tax and wage fraud are soaring even as law enforcement tries to crack down. The Federal Trade Commission says 24 percent of the nearly 279,000 identity theft complaints it received last year came from people concerned their Social Security numbers had been stolen and used to fraudulently file for tax refunds or apply for jobs. The agency says that’s 8 percent more than the year before. The commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection says the trend continues into this year. The number of complaints filed with the FTC on any issue has risen from 35,000 a week to 50,000. He says most of the additional complaints are for tax and wage identity theft.

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IRS Takes Steps to Prevent Identity Theft and Fraudulent Tax Returns

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

POSTED: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 – 05:27

UPDATED: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 – 05:33

The IRS is getting the word out about thieves who want to steal your identity and get your tax refund.
The crime of stealing someone’s identity to get a tax refund has increased from about 50,000 cases two years ago to more than 260,000 now.
News Channel Nine met with Terry Hansen from Jackson Hewitt, a local tax service, to get some tips on how to prevent this.
It’s a busy time of year for him and in one way, it’s busier than ever. Crooks are beating hard-working El Pasoans to their own tax refunds. So now on the 10-40 form, there’s a space where taxpayers can indicate their social security number has already been compromised by theft.

“Instead of social security, they’re gonna put this down here so when the IRS gets it, they’re gonna process it under this number,” said Hansen.

Therese Augustine says she knows a victim whose social security number fell into the wrong hands and cost them a refund.

“It happens when they do it real early in the season, so they gotta be first because then by the time someone files it, it comes back rejected saying someone already did that,” said Augustine.

Last year alone, the IRS says it stopped phony claims for $1.4 billion dollars in refunds. Part of the problem is more and more people are trusting friends or online tools to file taxes where social security numbers aren’t necessarily protected.

Hansen says corporations like Jackson Hewitt are the most reliable.

“Everything’s filed away, everything is secure. Its stored online. It’s stored in locked cabinets. Nothing can leave here,” said Hansen.

But what else can you do to make sure your social security number isn’t stolen?

“Never enter it on a website, no matter how many times the website asks you. Protect that social security number like it’s money, because it is,” said Bob Sullivan, a technology writer for MSNBC.

The good news is that the IRS is taking steps to prevent thieves from using social security numbers to file tax returns. If this does happen to you, notify the IRS immediately. For more information visit the IRS website : .



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ID theft complaints on the rise

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Posted at: 02/27/2012 6:57 AM

By: Associated Press |

Identity theft complaints involving tax and wage fraud are soaring even as law enforcement tries to crack down.

The Federal Trade Commission says 24 percent of the nearly 279,000 identity theft complaints it received last year came from people concerned their Social Security numbers had been stolen and used to fraudulently file for tax refunds or apply for jobs.

The agency says that’s eight-percent more than the year before. The commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection says the trend continues into this year. The number of complaints filed with the FTC on any issue has risen from 35,000 a week to 50,000. He says most of the additional complaints are for tax and wage identity theft.

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