Archive for October, 2012

Identity Theft, Jewelry Stolen in Sheriff’s Blotter

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Imperial Beach substation reported the following arrests and crimes from Oct. 23-29. If you see a crime, please report it to the Sheriff’s Department.


Oct. 29

10:23 a.m., 35-year-old man arrested with felony bench warrant on Dahlia Avenue

11:48 a.m., 24-year-old man arrested for the use and being under the influence of controlled substances and possession of unlawful paraphernalia at the corner of Palm Avenue and 13th Street

12:26 p.m., grand theft reported on Seacoast Drive. Computer, books and backpack reported stolen worth an estimated $1,001

11:23 p.m., 27-year-old man arrested for being drunk in public on Palm Avenue

Oct. 28

12:50 a.m., 32-year-old man arrested for being drunk in public and with misdemeanor warrant form other agency on 13th Street

1:58 p.m., vehicle vandalism reported on 13th Street. Stolen sedan worth an estimated $7,500

Oct. 27

8:58 a.m., petty theft reported on Seacoast Drive. Beach cruiser reported stolen worth an estimated $278

1:48 p.m., residential burglary and theft by use of access card information reported on 7th Street. Pants, wallet, ID, credit cards and other items stolen worth an estimated $140

Oct. 26

11:41 p.m., 42-year-old man arrested for being drunk in public on Dahlia Avenue

Oct. 25

12:09 a.m., 31-year-old man arrested for possession of controlled substances, unlawful paraphernalia and with warrant from other law enforcement agency at the corner of Dahlia Avenue and Ocean Lane

3:05 a.m., 26-year-old man arrested for driving under the influence on Evergreen Avenue

1:24 p.m., 54-year-old man arrested for being drunk in public on Imperial Beach Boulevard

5:11 p.m., identity theft case reported on 7th Street

6:33 p.m., armed robbery reported in an alley near 14th Street. Cell phone and $5,000 cash reported stolen

Oct. 24

2:15 a.m., shoplifting reported at CVS Pharmacy on Palm Avenue with an estimated $17 in stolen goods reported stolen

2:15 p.m., impersonation to get money or property/identity theft case reported on 9th Street

5:00 p.m., residential burglary reported on Elm Avenue. Electronics and jewelry reported stolen worth an estimated $4,745. Some of stolen jewelry was recovered

6:37 p.m., vehicle theft reported on California Street. Stolen vehicle worth an estimated $500

11:04 p.m., 22-year-old man arrested for driving under the influence at the corner of Imperial Beach Boulevard and 13th Street

Oct. 23

9:55 p.m., residential burglary reported on Florence Street


The following arrests or incidents were not detailed in previous blotters but were reported in the most recent blotter.


Oct. 22

9:39 a.m., stolen vehicle recovered on Elder Avenue. Recovered vehicle worth an estimated $1,000

12:48 p.m., stolen vehicle recovered on Elder Avenue. Recovered vehicle worth an estimated $2,500

8:16 p.m., shoplifting reported at Mercado Shores on 7th Street. About $50 in liquor reported stolen

Oct. 20

7:22 a.m., vandalism to structure reported on Donax Avenue, with $100 in estimated damage

Oct. 6

11:18 p.m., 35-year-old man arrested for driving under the influence and possession of one ounce or less of marijuana while driving on 10th Street

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Local Woman Sues Barnes & Noble for Identify Theft

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

A Deerfield woman sued Barnes Noble for invasion of privacy claiming her credit card information was stolen when shopped at the booksellers’ Deerfield store in August and September, according to a complaint filed Monday in federal court in Chicago.

Susan Winstead filed the complaint for herself and “on behalf of others similarly situated,” attempting to create a class action lawsuit against Barnes Noble arising from compromised PIN pads in 63 of the company’s stores throughout the United States, according to the complaint. The Evanston store was on the list of stores with compromised data.

Earlier: Evanston Barnes Noble Card Readers Were Hacked

“The area of personal data protection is an area of rising public concern and something that needs to be of the utmost importance to the retail and merchant group in the country,” Aron Robinson, one of Winstead’s lawyers, said.

According to the complaint, Winstead received a call from her credit card company in late September about a potentially fraudulent transaction. She confirmed the activity was improper and deactivated the card.

Though Barnes Noble acknowledged on Oct. 24 that PIN pads in 63 stores including Deerfield and Evanston had been compromised and information contained there stolen by criminals, it has yet to offer any compensation to the victim, according to the complaint.

The complaint also claims Wintstead and others whose personal information was wrongfully obtained will be required to take corrective action which could leave them more vulnerable to identity theft in the future, according to the complaint.

Robinson believes people should be better protected. “Consumers need to be comfortable providing this kind of information to retailers and know retailers are using every measure possible to secure their customer’s private information,” he said.

In addition to identity theft, Winstead has accused Barnes Noble of negligence, violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (the Act) and further negligence violating the Act.

Barnes Noble did not respond to a request from Patch for comments.

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Fresno Woman Arrested on 224 Counts of Identity Theft, Burglary

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Angela Greenwood, KSEE24 News

October 30, 2012

Updated Oct 30, 2012 at 6:23 PM PDT

A Fresno woman is behind bars suspected of committing more than 200 felonies. The arrest came after a nearly eight month long investigation.

The Fresno District Attorney’s Office tell us this is one of the biggest cases it’s ever had against a single person.

45-year-old Leisha Nelson was arrested on 224 counts of identity theft and burglary. She’s accused of stealing checks and credit cards from at least 61 victims between Chico and Visalia.

During a search of Nelson’s home, detectives seized a computer, a check making software program, checks and false identifications.

The investigation stemmed from an elder financial abuse case back in March. Authorities say a care provider stole checks and credit cards from an elderly victim. Nelson apparently knew the provider and got a hold of the items.

The District Attorney’s complaint shows Nelson also hit the Well-Being Chiropractic Group in Fresno and Baker Commodities in Hanford, as well as several local Walmart stores.

Deputy Chris Curtice from the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said, “That’s a lot of counts and the fact that the District Attorney’s Office went and filed that many counts tells you what kind of case this is. But this is one case and this has just been since this last year and this type of thing goes on every single day.”

Nelson was already awaiting trial for 25 counts of identity, grand theft and burglary spanning from 2008 to 2010. A pretrial hearing for those charges will be held Wednesday, and her arraignment for the new charges is also scheduled at the same time.

Nelson is being held on $4.8 million bond.

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Police Blotter: Identity Theft, Triple Threat Thieves, DUI, Battery

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Friday, Oct. 26

Possession of cannabis

Jordan Michael Coleman, 20, of the 3S600 block of Wilbur Avenue in Warrenville, was arrested at 9:37 p.m. near West Ogden Avenue and West Fifth Avenue, Naperville Police Department said. He was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of cannabis and registration expiration. His bond was $120.

Driving under the influence

Douglas Jerome Vermilyer, 50, of the 1300 block Rivercrest Drive in Plainfield, was arrested at 6:24 p.m. near East Gartner Road and South Washington Street, police said. He was charged with driving on a suspended/revoked license, driving without lights when required and driving under the influence of alcohol. His bond was $300.

Saturday, Oct. 27

Identity theft 

  • Jermone Fonte Bass, 37, of the 1600 block of West 63rd Street in Chicago, was arrested at 8:30 p.m. in the 700 block of Fort Hill Drive, police said. He was charged with retail theft and identity theft.
  • Jeffrey Louis Young, 38, of the 14000 block of Dearborn in Dolton, was arrested at 8:30 p.m. in the 700 block of Fort Hill Drive, police said. He was charged with two counts of identity theft and transported to DuPage County Jail.

Retail theft

  • Elaine Marie Luchene, 49, of the first block of Country Drive in Countryside, was arrested at 3:32 p.m. in the 2900 block of Audrey Avenue, police said. She was charged with retail theft. Her bond was $200.
  • Peter Michael Fabbri, 50, of the 3100 block of Oak Park Avenue in Berwyn, was arrested at 3:29 p.m. in the 2900 block of Audrey Avenue, police said. He was charged with retail theft. His bond was $150.

Endangering life of child

Karla Daniela Jacobo, 20, of the 700 block of West Galena Boulevard in Aurora, was arrested at 3:38 p.m. in the 2700 block of Aurora Avenue, police said. She was charged with endagering the life of a child. Her bond was $150.

Driving under the influence 

  • Ryan James Hughes, 21, of the 1500 block of Somerfield Drive in Bolingbrook, was arrested at 3:13 a.m. near Cantore Road and South Route 59, police said. He was charged with three counts of driving under the influence of alcohol, illegal possession of liquor and speeding.
  • Marie A. Spoors, 49, of the 250000 block of Middle Port Avenune in Monee, was arrested at 2:07 a.m. near East Diehl Road and Freedom Drive, police said. She was charged with no insurance, driving under the influence of alcohol and improper lane usage. Her bail was $3,000.
  • Jerry T. Kakkanad, 31, of the 1900 block of Brentwood Lane in Wheaton, was arrested at 1:26 a.m. in the first block of East Gartner Road, police said. he was charged with speeding, not wearing a seat belt, driving on suspended/revoked license and aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol/suspended/revoked license. He was transported to DuPage County Jail.


  • Eric John Sola, 26, 1800 block of Cannon Court in Schaumburg, was arrested at 1:40 a.m. in the first block of West Jefferson Avenue, police said. He was charged with four counts of battery and resisting a peace officer. His bond was $150.
  • Michael Sean McLaughlin, 27, of the 500 block of Williamsburgh Road in Glen Ellyn, was arrested at 1:40 a.m. in the first block of West Jefferson Avenue, police said. 16, He was charged with two counts of resisting a peace officer and two counts of battery. His bond was $150.

Interfering with an officer

Nicholas Andrew Panno, 26, of the 1700 block of Sjogren Court in Wheaton, was arrested at 1:40 a.m. in the first block of West Jefferson Avenue, police said. He was charged with interfering with an officer. His bond was $120.

Suspended/revoked license 

Robert Arthur Lee, 47, of the 3500 block of West 177th Street in Country Club Hills, was arrested at 1:11 a.m. near West 75th Street and Plainfield Naperville Road, police said. He was charged with no insurance, driving on a suspended/revoked license and operating a vehicle without insurance. His bond was $300.

Sunday, Oct. 28

Warrant arrest

Matthew Aaron Barrera, 20, of the 1100 block of Needham Road, was arrested at 7:29 p.m. in the 300 block of South Washington Street, police said. He was charged on a failure-to-appear warrant and transported to DuPage County Jail.

Driving under the influence

Octavio Fausto, 24, of the 400 block of Jefferson Street in Aurora, was arrested at 4:06 a.m. in the 1600 block of Conan Doyle Road, police said. He was charged with driving in the wrong lane, driving under the influence of alcohol and driving on sidewalk. His bond was $300.

Possession of cannabis 

Edgar A. Nino, 21, 1500 block of South Lombard in Cicero, was arrested at 2:52 a.m. in the 1100 block of East Diehl Road, police said. He was charged with possession of cannabis. His bond was $120.

Suspended/revoked license

  • Zachary Adam Huberty, 19, of the 100 block of Rhine Avenue in Bolingbrook, was arrested at 3:01 a.m. near 75th Street and South Route 59, police said. He was charged with driving on a suspended/revoked license, consumption of liquor by a minor, possession of liquor by a minor and improper lane usage. His bond was $150.
  • Martinique E. McGriff, 20, 300 block of West Ogden Avenue, was arrested at 12:44 a.m. near North Mill Street and West Ogden Avenue, police said. He was charged with operating a vehicle without insurance and driving on a suspended/revoked license. His bond was $120.

Driving under the influence of alcohol 

Michael Ryan Brems, 25, 2500 block of Chasewood Court in Aurora, was arrested at 2:19 a.m. near East 8th Avenue and North Washington Street, police said. He was charged with two counts of driving under the influence of alcohol, illegal possession of liquor, speeding and illegal lane usage. His bond was $300.

Possession of cannabis

Joseph Vincent Mitchell, 20, of the 1500 block of South County Farm Road in Wheaton, was arrested at 7 a.m. in the first block of South Ardmore Road in Villa Park, police said. He was charged with possession of cannabis. His bail was $3,000.

Fire extinguisher discharged

A fire extinguisher was reported to be discharged in the 600 block of Dana Court, police said.

Attempted burglary

A possible attempted burglary to a home was reported in the 3800 block of Littlestone Court, police said. The door was damaged, but no one entered. 

Negative campaigning 

Political signs were taken and damaged in the 400 block of Buckeye Drive, police said.

Wallet found

A black cloth wallet was found in the first block of Chicago Avenue, police said.

Triple threat thieves

Three people stole items from Home Depot on three occasions on Saturday in the 2900 block of Audrey Avenue, police said.

Lost wallet

A wallet was reported lost in the 1500 block of West Ogden Avenue, police said.

Purse found

A purse, driver’s license, credit card and iPhone were found in the first block of East Chicago Avenue, police said.

Resisting arrest

Someone violated the pedestrian crosswalk signal and later walked into the roadway intoxicated near Washington Street and Jefferson. The man refused to provide his name or give identification and told officers to arrest him, police said. He resisted arrest and was handcuffed and transported to the Naperville Police Department.

Tire slashed

The driver’s side front tire of a car was slashed with a sharp object in the 1100 block of Samstag Court, police said.

Broken window

A newly installed window on a home was broken by an unknown object in the 700 block of Mesa Drive, police said.

TVs found

Two TVs were found near a dumpster of a vacant building in the 1100 block of East Ogden Avenue, police said.

Money stolen

Someone took two $100 bills from an unsecured wallet in the 1100 block of Frontenac Road, police said.

Stolen wallet

A wallet was stolen from a glove box of a vehicle in the 1100 block of East Ogden Avenue, police said.

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St. Charles Police Blotter: Identity Theft Arrest, DUIs

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

SUNDAY, OCT. 28, 2012

Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol

Claudio A. Kienzle, 24, of the 100 block of Kensington Place, was charged at 2:33 a.m. at North 3rd and West Main Streets with driving under the influence of alcohol, DUI with a blood-alcohol content exceeding .08, driving without lights when required, and operating a vehicle with an expired registration. According to police, his blood-alcohol content registered .102. He was released on his own recognizance pending a Nov. 28 court appearance.

Suspicious Incident

The Copper Fox, 305 W. Main St., reported at 10:41 a.m. finding a .45-caliber shell casing at 8 a.m. on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. The report indicated the casing appeared old and not recently fired. Police found no other shell casings, nor was there any damage to the building.

Cannabis Possession

Carissa Lynn Johnson, 23, of the 500 block of Illinois Street., was charged at 5:31 p.m. on the 500 block of Walnut Street with possession of cannabis, possession of drug paraphernalia and disobeying a traffic control device. She was released on her own recognizance and was ordered to appear in court Nov. 15.

SATURDAY, OCT. 27, 2012

DUI on ‘No Refusal Weekend’

Frank J. Pastorino III, 48, of the 100 block of South George Street, Barrington, was charged at 12:30 a.m. at 1st and West Main streets with DUI, DUI with a blood-alcohol content greater than .08, and failure to obey a traffic control device. He declined a submit to a breath test, but was confronted by a Kane County assistant state’s attorney who obtained a warrant authorizing a blood test, after which police said Pastorino submitted to the breath test, which showed a blood-alcohol content of .157. He was released on his own recognizance pending a Nov. 28 court appearance.

Open Alcohol in a Public Place

Susan Sperber, 50, of the 1000 block of Manchester, Geneva, was cited with open alcohol in a public place at 9:08 p.m. at 12 N. 3rd St. Police found Sperber sitting outside the Alibi Bar Grill, 12 N. 3rd St., with a glass containing an alcoholic beverage next to her. She told the officer she concealed the glass when she left the Alibi and asked to be cited and that the Alibi be left out of it. The officer cited Sperber and forwarded the information to the St. Charles Liquor Control Commission. The Alibi recented was fined $1,000 by the city for liquor violations.

FRIDAY, OCT. 26, 2012

Underage Consumption of Alcohol

Jonathan Neil Peters, 18, of the 1700 block of Wessel Court, was cited at 10:53 p.m. in the 1800 block of Wessel Court, with illegal consumption of alcohol by a minor and criminal damage to property. He was released on his own recognizance with an order to appear in court Nov. 15.

THURSDAY, OCT. 25, 2012

Identity Theft Arrest

Isabel Lopez, 42, of the 700 block of West Brown Street, West Chicago, was arrested Thursday at her place of employment in the 3600 block of Swenson Avenue in St. Charges on one count of aggravated identity theft, a Class 1 felony. According to police, a 65-year-old Lakewood, Colo., resident reported to police there that someone in St. Charles, Ill., was using her Social Security number. Lakewood police traced the use of the number to a St. Charles business address and then contacted St. Charles police. St. Charles police arrested Lopez there, and the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office authorized charges against her. Lopez posted $5,000 cash bond, and she was transferred to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Identity Theft

A 71-year-old resident of the 500 block of South 15th Street reported at 12:10 p.m. that someone had used his wife’s information to withdraw $4,000 from two checking accounts. His wife’s purse had been stolen earlier this year in Chicago, and the victims had notified the appropriate credit agencies, according to the report. But on Oct. 17, while reviewing their checking accounts, they discovered the theft. The bank, Harris Bank of Milwaukee, told the victim someone bearing his wife’s Illinois driver’s license had signed her name while making the withdrawals. The bank wanted a copy of a police report on the matter. The victims were credited for their loss and Harris Bank is conducting its own investigation.

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 24, 2012

3 Arrested in Robbery

Two adults and a teenager juvenile were arrested within minutes after a robbery was reported at 7:43 p.m. in the 200 block of 19th Street. Deontae C. Nichols, 22, of the 2200 block of South Hamlin Street in Chicago, and the 16-year-old each were charged with robbery, a Class 2 felony; theft, a Class 3 felony; and unlawful possession of a stolen credit card, a Class 4 felony. Deaunta J. Taylor, 23, of the 700 block of North Springfield in Chicago, was charged with theft, a Class 3 felony, and unlawful possession of a stolen credit card, a Class 4 felony. According to police, a 44-year-old man reported he was assaulted and robbed by three males as he was walking down the street. He told police his assailants choked him and punched him in the face. He walked to his residence and called his bank to cancel the stolen credit card, and was informed that four transactions already had been made at a convenience store on West Main Street. Police said they had encountered the three 15 minutes before the robbery report, and police were able to obtain surveillance video and copies of the transaction receipts from the convenience store. They found the three males in the 1800 block of Indiana Street, where they were arrested. Nichols and Taylor were transported to the Kane County Jail, where they were held for an initial court appearance. The 16-year-old was transported to the Kane County Juvenile Justice Center to await proceedings.

MONDAY, OCT. 22, 2012

Possession of a Controlled Substance

A 17-year-old male resident of the 600 block of South 3rd Street was charged at 12:22 p.m. in the 1000 block of Dunham Road with possession of a controlled substance. He was being held in the jail.

SUNDAY, OCT. 21, 2012

Disorderly Conduct/Public Drunkenness

Oscar Z. Alexander, 31, of the 200 block of North Locust, Aurora, was cited at 1:32 a.m. at 222 W. Main St., with disorderly conduct/public drunkenness.

Police Blotter information is provided by the St. Charles Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies. Charges are not evidence of guilt. They are a record of police actions taken on a given day, and persons charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty in court. If you or a family member are charged or cited and the case is subsequently adjudicated, we encourage you to notify the editor. We will verify and report the outcome.

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Here are the top 5 Best Ways to Avoid Post-Sandy Scams

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

In the wake of any major and destructive weather event, there is always confusion, misinformation, and disarray. But if you’re lucky enough to live in a place like the U.S., there is also a massive outpouring of aid.

Unfortunately, there are people out there who use both post-disaster confusion as well as the goodwill of others to grab a piece of the aid pie.

That being said, here’s a helpful list from Identity Theft 911, a group that specializes in “identity and data risk management, resolution and education services,” detailing the top 5 best ways to avoid getting scammed by thieves trying to take advantage of Superstorm Sandy [all block quotes from Identity Theft 911]:

Identity thieves:

Identity Theft 911 Presents the Best Ways to Avoid Getting Scammed Post Superstorm Sandy

Protect important information and documents. Whether you’re in a shelter, staying with friends, or crashing on your family’s couch, never let these items leave your sight. They are the key to your identity — and you will need this information to prove who you are.

Another tip: Ask the post office to hold your mail if you have to leave your home. This will keep the bad guys from finding sensitive information that may be left in your mailbox.

Insurance scams

Identity Theft 911 Presents the Best Ways to Avoid Getting Scammed Post Superstorm Sandy

If you’ve experienced damage to any of your personal property, call your insurance company first.  Don’t fall for fly-by-night “professionals” who make false guarantees about a claims check, damage appraisal, inspection or water quality testing.

Illegitimate websites

Identity Theft 911 Presents the Best Ways to Avoid Getting Scammed Post Superstorm Sandy

Double check the legitimacy of the site you’re clicking to from your email, Facebook or elsewhere. When in doubt, check your local American Red Cross or the National FEMA site to find local help.

Fake charitable organizations

Identity Theft 911 Presents the Best Ways to Avoid Getting Scammed Post Superstorm Sandy

Watch out for scammy charitable organizations that have names similar to reputable institutions. These sites often end in .com (instead of the typical .org for nonprofits).

They’re designed to fool you into thinking you’re donating to a good cause when, in reality, you’re donating your money and personal and financial information to thieves.

Photos with malware

Identity Theft 911 Presents the Best Ways to Avoid Getting Scammed Post Superstorm Sandy

This scam strikes after any type of disaster or tragedy. Thieves count on people to be hungry for news, so they infect images and video with malware.

Stick with legitimate sites, such as your local news station or newspaper for the latest information. Be wary of links on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites.

Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

All photos courtesy the AP.

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Yuba City trio faces burglary, identity theft charges after Oroville arrest – Mercury

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

OROVILLE — Oroville police said three Yuba City residents who were arrested Saturday night while allegedly stealing merchandise in Oroville are also suspected of identity theft in Yuba County.

A woman and two men were arrested at Walmart after an earlier theft at Home Depot.

Lt. Al Byers said Monday, that around 8 p.m. Saturday a witness reportedly saw a woman leave Home Depot with an ice chest that may have been filled with stolen goods.

The witness saw the woman get into a 1998 GMC van occupied by two men. The witness followed the van to the Walmart parking lot, Byers said.

One of the two men accompanied the woman into Walmart.

Officers responding to the scene interrupted the two while they were attempting to steal more merchandise, police said.

Police found the other man outside the store in the van.

The suspects were identified as Allison E. Higgins, 28, Michael J. King, 38, and Shawn Isaac Taplin, 31, all of Yuba City.

During a search of the van, police recovered the ice chest and various items from Home Depot, along with stolen mail, personal and business checks, credit card information and store receipts.

The group was also in possession of identity theft documents — mainly checks — belonging to 25 victims in the Yuba City area, police said.

Oroville investigators contacted Yuba City police and learned about 600 mail theft victims have been identified in the area. A multiple-county investigation into mail theft and

fraud is under way.

Byers confirmed Monday that Higgins, King and Taplin may have been connected to the bigger case. Oroville investigators have determined the three were using personal identifying information from some of the victims and were altering or forging stolen checks.

“We’re cooperating with Yuba City, and forwarded our information to assist them in their investigation,” Byers said.

The three are also suspected of stealing merchandise from Walmart and returning the goods to Walmart stores in other counties.

Higgins, King and Taplin were booked into Butte County Jail on charges of commercial burglary, conspiracy, identity theft, and possession of stolen property.

Taplin was also wanted on a no-bail warrant for violation of parole.

Staff writer Barbara Arrigoni can be reached at 533-3136,, or on Twitter @OMRBarbara.

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Fresno woman faces multiple identity theft charges

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

FRESNO, Calif.—A 45-year-old Fresno woman is facing identity theft and burglary charges involving 61 people who live between Visalia and Sacramento.

The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said Leisha Nelson remained jailed on $4.8 million bail Monday following her arrest on 224 felony counts Thursday.

Authorities say Nelson first came to their attention in March when they identified her as a suspect in the case of an elderly person who allegedly had credit cards and checks stolen by a care provider.

During a search of her home and another location, sheriff’s investigators found data storage devices containing the names and bank accounts of several other people and fake ID cards.

Sonia De La Rosa, a spokeswoman for the Fresno County district attorney, says Nelson asked Monday to delay her arraignment until Wednesday.

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Experts urge those affected by hacking to take precautions against identity theft

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Meanwhile, a local credit counseling agent said residents should look at all their options and take all precautions to protect themselves against identity theft.

On Friday, Gov. Nikki Haley and other state officials announced that the S.C. Department of Revenue’s website was hacked several times from late August to mid October.

Investigators said the incursion might have compromised 3.6 million Social Security numbers on returns dating back to 1998 and 387,000 payment card records. The Social Security numbers were not encrypted, while the vast majority of the credit card numbers were encrypted, save 16,000 of them.

To protect taxpayers, the state is offering a year of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection to anyone who believes they are at risk through the global information services company Experian.

During a news conference with the State Law Enforcement Division on Monday in Columbia, Haley said the state has gone “above and beyond” to make sure that everyone who needs protection gets it, including those without computer access, minors included on their parents’ tax returns and those serving in the military.

The services being offered also include fraud resolution, even for problems going back several years, and $1 million worth of insurance for anyone who has to pay for any sort of investigation.

“Right now we are being overly cautious,” Haley said. “We don’t know whose information was compromised. … When you know there is a pool of people that could be included, you don’t sit there and play a guessing game or bet on who could be hurt. You go and make sure everybody is taken care of.”

Haley said that people have until the end of January to sign up for the service. As of Monday, 455,000 people had called in to the service, and 154,000 people had signed up for credit monitoring, she said.

Some people had reported having trouble getting through to the call center on the first day, but Haley said the center now has more than 300 operators and wait times are down to an average of 12 minutes.

SLED Chief Mark Keel said the investigation is “sensitive” and “ongoing.”

“It may be some weeks before we will know exactly what information was compromised and what was not,” Keel said during the news conference. “You have this database. … We don’t know exactly what was extracted from that database. As we get this information, we will be back in touch with these individuals.”

Keel also addressed criticisms aimed at the state for releasing the information to the public on Friday, a month after the hacks occurred.

“I want to let everyone know and make it abundantly clear I said on Friday and I say again today that the timing of notifying the public and making this public was dictated by law enforcement,” he said. “It was done because we were conducting an investigation. We were trying the best we could to try and protect this information as much as we possibly could. And by allowing us the time that we had to conduct our investigation, we believe that this information is better protected then it would have been otherwise.”

Haley said the state is still negotiation with Experian about the cost of its services. She said it would depend on how many people sign up. But the state is getting the services at wholesale prices, which start at $8 per person, she said.

She said no Revenue Department employees had been punished in the wake of the incident.

“The person I hope is disciplined is this international criminal who came in and hacked,” Haley said. “This wasn’t an issue where anyone in state government or the agency could have done anything to avoid it. … A sophisticated, intelligent criminal got into a database that is unbelievably creative in how he did it and now we are having to deal with that.”

Haley said Social Security numbers were not encrypted because that is the industry standard used by banks and other entities.

“I’m very confident that we have done a lot to protect the taxpayers of this state,” Haley said. “The encryption of Social Security numbers when it doesn’t typically happen at banks … whether it’s any other agency it’s not something you think about it. Are we talking about it now? Yes. Are we trying to see what the cost associated with and what the timeline would be? Yes. When something like this happens, it forces a whole other conversation.”

Brent Bishop, community development officer with the nonprofit consumer credit counseling service Compass of Carolina, said he has received a few calls from worried residents.

He said people should take advantage of the services offered by the state, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to go the extra mile for “peace of mind.”

“It’s hard enough to protect your own information on a daily basis,” Bishop said. “It’s even more discouraging when somebody else, in this case the state, is responsible for causing you this potential kind of grief. … This can be an intimidating, but there are things you can do to protect yourself. ”

In addition to credit monitoring services, consumers can place fraud alerts on their accounts.

An initial fraud alert will stay on a credit report for at least 90 days, and creditors have to verify your identity before issuing credit in someone’s name, according to CredAbility, a nonprofit credit counseling and education service.

For someone who is the victim of identity theft, a fraud alert can be extended for seven years. Fraud alerts can be removed upon request.

Bishop said a credit freeze is also another good step a consumer can take to stymie thieves trying to open a new account in their name.

A freeze keeps creditors and other third parties from accessing accounts unless the holder temporarily lifts it. Freezes don’t affect credit scores or access to credit reports or scores.

Haley said the state has plugged the leaks within SCDOR’s system and is working to make sure information at other agencies is safe.

“You have to stay ahead of the curve,” she said. “You can’t wait for something to happen. We have always tried to look at every agency. We’ve all talked to them about what they need to do. What their internal controls are, and they’ve all made those arrangements. We will continue to stay on high alert with IT services because it’s important.”

Haley, who has been the victim of identity theft before, said the incident highlights the threat posed by hackers in the information age.

“If the CIA can be hacked into, anybody can be hacked into,” she said. “I think what we’re looking at is the fact that none of us is completely protected from hackers. I think it’s just the new world in which we live in. But our job is to respond. Respond immediately and do everything we can to take care of the people of the state.”

Haley and Keel are expected to hold another news conference with SCDOR Director Jim Etter at 9:15 a.m. today at the Statehouse.

State Identity Theft Protection Information

– Call 1-866-578-5422 where you will enroll in a consumer protection service. The call center is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

– Any South Carolina taxpayer residing in the state who wishes to bypass the telephone option, there currently is an online service available at Enter the code SCDOR123 when prompted. Every South Carolina taxpayer who takes the time to sign up will be afforded the protection, and that protection is retroactive. South Carolina taxpayers have until the end of January, 2013 to sign up. South Carolina taxpayers who sign up for protection will be notified about how to sign up for a “Family Secure Plan” if they claim minors as dependents.

– Experian’s ProtectMyID Alert is designed to detect, protect and resolve potential identity theft, and includes daily monitoring of all three credit bureaus. The alerts and daily monitoring services are provided for one year and consumers will continue to have access to fraud resolution agents and services beyond the first year.

Tips to Protect your Personal Information from CredAbility

– When conducting business online or over the phone, never share personal or financial information unless you have initiated contact and know who you are talking to.

– Empty your wallet: Take out credit cards that you don’t use regularly, Social Security cards or other cards that may contain your Social Security number, such as insurance cards. Once you minimize what you’re keeping in your wallet, photocopy both sides of everything and keep in a secure location for easy access in case your wallet is lost or stolen.

– Checks: If possible, use a P.O. Box instead of your home address on checks. Never print your Social Security Number on checks. When you order checks or a new driver’s license, have them sent to the bank instead of your home.

– Clean out your car and remove receipts and anything else containing personal information.

– Clear Social Security Numbers from public records. Check your local Clerk of Court online records. If you have bought a home in the past, your records are there and your Social Security number could be visible. Make a request that this information be concealed in online copies of your records. Many Clerk of Court offices actively ensure this information is hidden but older public records may still be in need of this update.

– Think Before You Post:

– A recent survey by Consumer Reports revealed that more than half of adult users of social networks such as Facebook and MySpace have posted risky personal information online.

– Check your online Social Networking Account privacy settings and limit what you share with others. Remove personal contact information, birth date, city of residence, and any other personal information from public view and consider removing it altogether.

– Do not post vacation plans, or even plans for the day—these posts can alert a potential identity thief to when you will be gone and for how long. If you want to share, wait until after you have returned.

– Choose your “friends” carefully. Don’t subscribe to the ‘more is better’ theory when it comes to social networks. Keeping your circle of friends small will significantly reduce your risk.

– Monitor your kids’ activity. If you allow your children to be part of any social network, be sure that they are following these same guidelines.

– Use Caution when Sending or Tossing Mail:

– Raising the flag on your mailbox signals identity thieves that there might be information to steal in the box. Checks provide thieves with your name, address and bank account information. Drop outgoing mail into a U.S. Mailbox or at the Post Office.

Shred everything, including unsolicited applications for credit cards and other loan products, and credit card receipts. If it has your personal information on it, it is always better to shred it before throwing it away.

– Practice Internet Safety:

– Do not click on links in emails that ask you to “verify” personal information or passwords, even if they appear to be from your financial institution.

– Do not save user names and passwords on your computer. Instead, enter them each time you access a site. Change passwords periodically and use strong passwords, such as those with a random combination of letters, numbers and characters) to minimize easy detection. Refrain from using birthdates, anniversaries and other easy to find numbers.

– When shopping online, do not use debit cards or checks for purchases. Use credit cards, and be sure to look for the small lock on the bottom right hand corner of the screen or look at the URL on your internet browser to ensure it begins with HTTPS//. These indicators reflect the purchase is being made over a secure server and that your information is encrypted to protect it.

– Keep your virus protection software up-to-date, use a secure server to access the internet, and install a firewall to prevent thieves from “logging in” to your computer.

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