Archive for October, 2012

Fresno woman held on 224 counts of ID theft

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

A 45-year-old Fresno woman has been arrested on suspicion of identity theft and burglary involving 61 victims between Sacramento and Visalia, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said.

Leisha Nelson, a care provider who faces 224 counts, is accused of stealing checks and credit cards, the Sheriff’s Office said. The investigation began in March when deputies investigated a financial elder abuse case.

Subsequently, search warrants were served at two locations, including Nelson’s residence, where detectives seized a computer, a check-making program, checks, false identifications, and storage devices containing identities and account numbers of alleged victims.

Nelson is already awaiting trial on several counts of identity theft, grand theft and commercial burglary, offenses alleged committed from 2008 to 2010.

She was was arrested last week at her home in the 4500 block of West Dayton Avenue. Her bail is set at nearly $5 million.

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Identity Theft, It Can Happen to You Without You Knowing

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Identity Theft Identity Theft, It Can Happen to You Without You Knowing

Our identities can easily be stolen by identity thieves if we are not careful. If you think you are not susceptible to identity theft, you might want to think about when the last time was when you shared personal information. According to the FTC, “9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year” and can result numerous problems for victims ranging from denied loans for housing or cars, and job opportunities.

With National Protect Your Identity Week scheduled from October 20th-27th, we are often reminded to shred those preapproved credit card offers, receipts, statements and other documents that contain our personal information at community shred events . But what happens to the personal information that we share with others?

We don’t think too much about a receipt that we sign when we make a purchase or the paperwork that we had to fill out as a new employee. But as soon as we hand over this sensitive information to businesses, we trust that they will safeguard our privacy as much as we do, by destroying it when it is no longer needed.  It is ultimately our responsibility to prevent identity theft so take time to ask how the company disposes the sensitive data that they collect or their safeguarding procedures. If the company cannot give you an answer directly, they might not be securing your privacy and your identity may be stolen without you even knowing it.

To view FTC’s steps on how to respond and recover from identity theft, visit

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State Department employee pleads guilty to identity theft

Monday, October 29th, 2012

A former State Department employee has pleaded guilty in an identity theft scheme in which a key witness in the federal probe was gunned down outside a D.C. church, according to court documents and law enforcement officials.

No arrests have been made in the 2008 slaying of a co-conspirator in the scam, and D.C. police have said they have no information that the killing is connected to the identity theft scheme.

Twenty-six-year-old Rodney P. Quarles Jr., of Charlotte Hall, Md., a former low-level employee in the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, admitted in U.S. District Court of D.C. on Friday to a charge of conducting illegal transactions with credit cards. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

According to prosecutors, from September 2007 to 2008, Quarles worked in the Passport Office, where his job consisted mainly of destroying old passports and passports that had been reported lost or stolen. He got the job as a member of the department’s student work program.

As part of the conspiracy,

a mail sorter for the U.S. Postal Service stole credit cards from envelopes, and the names on these cards were passed along to Quarles. Using his position at the State Department, Quarles used the agency’s database to retrieve personal information to activate the credit card accounts.

Quarles accessed the files of least 700 people, court papers said. The identity theft ring stole credit cards and used them to obtain about $72,000 worth of in ATM withdrawals, jewelry, electronics, gift cards and designer clothing.

But the scheme unraveled in March 2008 during a routine traffic stop of one of the conspirators, a 24-year-old with the unusual name of Lieutenant Quarles Harris Jr.

D.C. police searched Harris’ vehicle and found more than dozen ziplock bags containing marijuana.

He arrested possession with intent to distribute. During a search of Harris, police found 19 credit cards and eight passport application printouts.

Harris revealed that his connections in the State Department and postal service.

He agreed to cooperate with federal investigators to tell a grand jury what he knew.

On April 17, 2008, police responding to the sound of gunshots and found Harris slumped dead over the steering wheel of his car in front of the Judah House Praise Baptist Church in Northeast D.C.

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Texas “Shred Day” Event Promotes Identity Theft Prevention

Monday, October 29th, 2012

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PR Web

Dallas, TX (PRWEB) October 29, 2012 men’s lifestyle and finance magazine released their statement today about how the Better Business Bureau’s hosted event, “Shred Day,” is helping to spread awareness to the public through identity theft education and tips on protecting oneself from such crimes.’s take on this may help to raise help consumers’ understanding of what a popular crime identity theft is, and ways to protect their identities such as doing an annual free credit report check, monitoring bank accounts closely, and taking care to shred personal documents at home.

Kristin Gordon of Texas news and talk radio, KWTX, reported today that over the weekend, a “Shred Day” event was hosted by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) in the town of Killeen, Texas in an attempt to spread awareness about crimes related to identity theft. First National Bank Texas served as the meeting-place for the event, and volunteers assisted consumers in unloading paper documents, hard drives, computers, and other electronics that held sensitive personal information. Everything was then either shredded or crushed, and loaded onto trucks that would deliver the remains to a recycling plant. heartily supports the BBB in its effort to reach out to the public and spread awareness on identity theft, and ways to protect oneself.’s Senior staff writer is quoted as saying, “I am actually a very recent victim of identity theft, wherein my debit card numbers were stolen and used by somebody across the country. Fortunately, I caught the fraud in time to have the card closed and many of the transactions reversed before they even posted, but many people are not so lucky. It is very important to take the proper steps to protect your identity, since this unfortunately is such a fast-growing crime. I think it’s great that the BBB is being proactive in reminding communities what an important issue it is, and providing a shredding service to people who many not have access to a shredder at home.”

The above-mentioned KWTX article quotes the regional director of BBB, Richard Kitterman, in saying, “Everything we accept will be recycled. Nothing will end up in a landfill, including the cardboard boxes that you bring your documents in.” Kitterman reportedly warns that much of daily mail ought to be shredded for safety, and recommends that consumers go through old documents and aged files to shred things that are not of use any longer. He also advises consumers to take advantage of their yearly free copy of their credit report and score, to check for accuracy and assurance that nobody else is utilizing their credit. tells its readers to “be smart” about their secure information.’s Senior staff writer states, “C’mon, guys, if you’ve got a Smart Phone make sure it is password protected. There are so many financial apps on those things today, which in many ways is really great and helpful—as long as they’re secure and protected. Don’t be giving out credit card information via email, and only make online purchases on secure websites. How can you tell? Simple, just make sure the website’s address says ‘https’ instead of just ‘http’ at the checkout page. Be smart, guys. I’m not saying that you won’t get scammed on even if you do all the right things, but it certainly helps.”

As cited in the above-mentioned article, the Federal Trade Commissions states that the top complaint in 2011 was identity theft, a statistic that has held fast since 1999. KWTX’s Gordon reports that in total, 14,000 pound of paper were shredded on the BBB’s sponsored “Shred Day” over the weekend. An additional 9,000 pounds of electronic waste and 65 hard drives were crushed and recycled, and 600 pounds of cardboard was broken down to recycle. The article states that the event was supposed to take place from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., but event volunteers needed to closed the paper shredding lanes an hour early because the trucks were at maximum storage capacity.

About lifestyle and finance magazine is an online men’s magazine that supplies advice on dating, travel, and luxury items such as watches and fine clothing. is aimed towards mostly male readers in their 30’s and 40’s, many of whom have already attained a life goal and are on the path towards accomplishing something new and exciting. lifestyle and finance magazine features stories about hot chicks, internet dating, vacationing, and personal finance such as credit awareness and advice. is owned and operated by Purpose Inc.

Read the full story at





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Kansas case puts face on ‘total identity theft’

Monday, October 29th, 2012

When Candida L. Gutierrez’s identity was stolen, the thief didn’t limit herself to opening fraudulent credit card and bank accounts.

She assumed Gutierrez’s persona completely, using it to get a job, a driver’s license, a mortgage and even medical care for the birth of two children.

All the while, the crook claimed the real Gutierrez was the one who had stolen her identity. The women’s unusual tug-of-war puts a face on “total identity theft,” a form of the crime in which con artists go beyond financial fraud to assume many other aspects of another person’s life.

The scheme has been linked to illegal immigrants who use stolen Social Security numbers to get paid at their jobs, and authorities fear the problem could soon grow to ensnare more unsuspecting Americans.

“When she claimed my identity and I claimed it back, she was informed that I was claiming it, too,” said Gutierrez, a 31-year-old Houston elementary school teacher. “She knew I was aware and that I was trying to fight, and yet she would keep fighting. It is not like she realized and she stopped. No, she kept going, and she kept going harder.”

A 32-year-old illegal immigrant named Benita Cardona-Gonzalez is accused of using Gutierrez’s identity during a 10-year period when she worked at a Topeka company that packages refrigerated foods. She is being held in the Butler County jail.

For years, large numbers of illegal immigrants have filled out payroll forms using their real names but stolen Social Security numbers. However, as electronic employment verification systems such as E-Verify become more common, the use of fake numbers is increasingly difficult.

Now prosecutors worry that more people will try to fool the system by assuming full identities rather than stealing the numbers alone.

Federal Trade Commission statistics show that Americans reported more than 279,000 instances of identity theft in 2011, up from 251,100 a year earlier. While it is unclear how many of those cases involve total identity theft, one possible indicator is the number of identity theft complaints that involve more than one type of identity theft – 13 percent last year, compared with 12 percent a year earlier.

Prosecutors say that the longer a person uses someone else’s identity, the more confident the thief becomes using that identity for purposes other than just working.

Once they have become established in a community, identity thieves don’t want to live in the shadows and they seek a normal life like everybody else. That’s when they take the next step and get a driver’s license, a home loan and health insurance.

“And so that is a natural progression, and that is what we are seeing,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson, who is prosecuting the case against Gutierrez’s alleged impostor.

‘Horrible nightmare’

Gutierrez first learned her identity had been hijacked when she was turned down for a mortgage more than a decade ago. Now each year she trudges to the Social Security Administration with her birth certificate, driver’s license, passport and even school yearbooks to prove her identity and clear her employment record.

She spends hours on the phone with creditors and credit bureaus, fills out affidavits and has yet to clean up her credit history. Her tax records are a mess. She even once phoned the impostor’s Kansas employer in a futile effort to find some relief.

Both women claimed they were identity theft victims and sought to get new Social Security numbers. The Social Security Administration turned down the request from Gutierrez, instead issuing a new number to the woman impersonating her. And in another ironic twist, Gutierrez was forced to file her federal income tax forms using a special identification number usually reserved for illegal immigrants.

“It is such a horrible nightmare,” Gutierrez said. “You get really angry, and then you start realizing anger is not going to help. … But when you have so much on your plate and you keep such a busy life, it is really such a super big inconvenience. You have to find the time for someone who is abusing you.”

When Gutierrez recently got married, her husband began researching identity theft on the Internet and stumbled across identity theft cases filed against other illegal immigrants working at Reser’s Fine Foods, the same manufacturer where Cardona-Gonzalez worked. He contacted federal authorities in Kansas and asked them to investigate the employee working there who had stolen his wife’s identity.

The alleged impostor was arrested in August, and her fingerprints confirmed that immigration agents had encountered Cardona-Gonzalez in 1996 in Harlingen, Texas, and sent her back to Mexico.

Cardona-Gonzalez did not respond to a letter sent to her at the Butler County jail, where she is awaiting trial on charges of aggravated identity theft, misuse of a Social Security number and production of a false document.

Her attorney, Matthew Works of Topeka, did not respond to phone calls and e-mails seeking comment. Court filings indicate the two sides are negotiating a plea agreement.

Citing privacy issues, the Social Security Administration declined to discuss the Gutierrez case. Reser’s Fine Foods did not return a message left at its Topeka plant.

Anderson, the prosecutor, expects more cases of total identity theft “because we all know what is going on out there – which is thousands and thousands of people who are working illegally in the United States under false identities, mostly of U.S. citizens, and very little is being done about it.”

“But we are doing something about it, one case at a time.”

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Webroot introduces next generation of malware protection

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Webroot, a leading computer security company, just introduced its 2013 update to the SecureAnywhere product line which was the result of a total product revamp. I waited to write about this new product until I had time to discuss it with industry experts and get some details from company executives.

On October 25 Webroot’s CEO, Dick Williams, explained why Webroot decided to make the change to SecureAnywhere one year ago.

“For far too long, people have endured a miserable experience with their PC security,” said Williams in an email. “Security vendors, including Webroot, have expected customers to buy, install, and manage security products by themselves. This industry has been delivering products that are less and less effective against threats from zero-day exploits, social engineering, and other sophisticated techniques we see today. Webroot is taking the misery out of security. SecureAnywhere is the fastest, lightest, and the least demanding – so people are free to do what they want online.”

Jay Foley of IDTIS said that the problem with many anti-virus programs is that consumers have to understand how the product operates and how to set the security features on desktops, laptops, tablet devices and mobile phones, often with different products. “That assumes a level of knowledge higher than many computer users possess. This leads to opening or forwarding malware texts, websites and dangerous files not yet identified by security software.”

Foley added: “Most anti-virus programs provide security programs against known malware threats. Instead of purchasing several platform support programs I like that Webroot covers all devices and offers unique protection against threats that have not even yet been designed, more quickly and effectively than ever before.”

In the first review since its 2013 product release, Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus garnered the PC Magazine Editors’ Choice Award. In his review, lead security analyst Neil Rubenking wrote, “Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus 2013 gives you speedy scanning and excellent malware blocking in a ridiculously small package.”

“Webroot’s solutions work differently than traditional security solutions by focusing on the behavior of files that try to execute on a system regardless of whether or not we have seen that file previously. That means that we provide proactive security through a collection of shields – including a Behavior Shield, a Web Threat Shield, an Identity Shield, an Offline Shield, and a Zero-Day Shield – that provide real-time protection from even previously unknown threats,” said Sarah Wu, Webroot’s Director of Product Management, in answer to how this product differs from others.

According to Rubenking, “Webroot doesn’t use file-based signatures to identify threats; that’s part of why it can be so small. Instead, it examines hundreds of file characteristics and behaviors and checks them against its cloud database. That means it can detect a never-before-seen zero-day threat just as easily as a well-known one.”

Webroot has significantly improved its generic system protection to fight identity-stealing threats, a class of infection which is notoriously difficult for conventional products to detect and combat.

SecureAnywhere automatically blocks these tricky key loggers, screen grabbers, man-in-the-browser attacks, and information-stealing Trojan horse attacks. This extra protection layer works in addition to the anti-malware components of SecureAnywhere, creating a powerful new layer of defense against the most malicious of threats in the same small, lightweight package.

Webroot’s identity protection capabilities are automatically configured to protect a user’s financial data, providing superior protection for file backup, online banking and shopping. You can read more this product and how it compares to other anti-virus programs online.

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Consumer 10 Report: Smartphones increase risk of identity theft

Monday, October 29th, 2012


Kurt Ludlow


Sunday October 28, 2012 10:01 AM

To paraphrase that favorite query of the presidential-campaign season: Is your identity safer
now than it was a week ago?

Consumer advocates certainly hope so.

They just spent seven days telling us: 1) Why we should safeguard our financial identities; 2)
How we can safeguard our financial identities; and 3) What we should do if, well, we flunk the
first two lessons.

After a flurry of identity-theft seminars, online chats and document-shredding events from coast
to coast, the fifth edition of Protect Your Identity Week came to a close yesterday.

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling created Protect Your Identity Week in 2008 to
combat what had become the No. 1 source of complaints to the Federal Trade Commission.

Unfortunately, there’s no doubt the foundation will feel the need next October to sponsor the
sixth-annual Protect Your Identity Week.

Despite all the public-education efforts, ID theft remains the FTC’s biggest bugaboo, accounting
for 15 percent of the nearly 1.9 million complaints filed last year. The agency estimates that
almost 25 million Americans fall victim to fraud or ID theft annually — with a financial toll
approaching $50 billion.Simply put, ID theft isn’t going away. In fact, it’s spreading faster than
ever, thanks to society’s embrace of mobile technology and social media.The trend prompted the
organizers of this year’s Protect Your Identity Week to choose the theme
Theft Protection on the Go.

“Although smartphones brought great convenience into people’s lives, they also brought with them
another opportunity for thieves to access personal data and use it to their advantage,” foundation
Vice President Gail Cunningham said.

A study by Javelin Strategy Research found that smartphone users are 33 percent more
likely than non-users to become victims of ID theft, Cunningham noted. The study also revealed that
62 percent of smartphone users don’t use password protection.

Although the 2012 installment of Protect Your Identity Week is officially over, consumer
advocates say the fight is never-ending. Cunningham’s organization offers tips:

• Protect your smartphone with strong passwords.

• Install security software. A number of companies now market anti-virus and security software
designed exclusively for smartphones.

• Enroll in a “backup/wiping” program that enables your home computer to back up everything on
your smartphone — and then delete that same data from your phone if the phone ever goes

• Pay attention to what you do on your smartphone, taking the same precautions you would with
your home computer. Check URLs for accuracy, steer clear of suspicious links, and make sure a site
is secure (https) before using your phone to relay personal information.

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Child identity theft on the rise

Monday, October 29th, 2012

AUSTIN — Otelia Valesquez is very particular about buying online, paying with a credit card, or ever giving out her information.

86yearold lady, somebody in New York, because she used to order from Spegals and all that, they got her identity,” she said.

That 86-year old lady she’s referring to was her mother-in-law.

After that, Valesquez said she started taking extra precautions to protect her identity and the identities of her grand kids.

“The only place their social security goes is when we do our income tax, that is it,” she said.

A 2009-2010 study at the Carnegie Mellon University Cylab revealed identity thieves target children 51 times more often than adults.

According to the Better Business Bureau, the study shows “thieves steal social security numbers, attach a different name and birth date to it, and proceed to open credit cards and secure auto loans, student loans and home mortgages, among other things.”

Erin Dufner with the Better Business Bureau says it’s important to keep your children’s social security number guarded.

“Be sure that you keep it in a very safe place, possibly locked up. If you are scanning those documents make sure that your anti-virus is up to date and it is password protected.

Dufner says nowadays, identities are often stolen online and since it’s not common for parents to check their children’s credit when they are young, thefts can go unnoticed.

“Sometimes by the time that you figure it out, the damage is already done and they may have hundreds of thousands of dollars taken out in credit,” Dufner said. “If your child is getting those credit card mailers in the mail and they are not even teenagers yet, that is absolutely a red flag.”

She says it’s important to check your child’s credit, along with yours, at least once a year.

Valesquez says after her mother-in-law’s experience, she’s wants to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else, especially not anyone’s grand kids.

“You cant trust anybody out there,” Valesquez said.


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Identity theft suspected in illegal acces of prescription drug tracking system

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

This week Washington’s Prescription Monitoring Program sent letters to 34 people whose records were illegally accessed by someone who used a physician’s identity.

The doctor’s personal and professional information was used to set up a fraudulent account in the statewide system. The state Department of Health urges health care providers already using the system to review their account to make sure it hasn’t been used fraudulently. Prescribers without accounts are being asked to set up their own accounts to reduce the risk of illegal access.

The Prescription Monitoring Program oversees a database with information on controlled substance prescriptions. Controlled substances are drugs regulated by federal and state law because of their potential for abuse. Health care providers authorized to prescribe these drugs use the online system to see their patients’ controlled substance prescription history. By viewing these prescriptions, health care professionals can better coordinate patient care and help prevent overprescribing, dangerous drug interactions, and drug addiction.

State health officials immediately deactivated the account when they learned it was fraudulent. The illegal account had been used to put the information of 34 patients into a format that can be downloaded. The patients and their prescribing providers have been notified and law enforcement is now investigating the case.

“Maintaining the privacy of personal health information is a priority for the Department of Health,” said Assistant Secretary Karen Jensen. “Our Prescription Monitoring Program and our information technology security officer are working together to see what else can be done, look for ways to improve security, and prevent future attempts to create fake accounts.”

The patients involved have been urged to contact health insurers and care providers to verify that no unauthorized services have been used under their names. Providers are encouraged to safeguard their professional and personal identifiers to help avoid this problem. They’re also being urged to register for the program to help protect their practice and patient health records.

More than 10,000 health care providers in Washington use the online system. Other groups, including law enforcement and health professional licensing boards, can request information to help prevent controlled substance misuse, fraud, and diversion.

The Prescription Monitoring Program collects records for all controlled substances from practitioners and pharmacies that dispense these medications. Prescription drug misuse is a national and local problem. It’s caused an alarming growth in overdose deaths, hospitalizations, admissions for substance abuse, and other non-medical use.

In Washington, deaths involving unintentional prescription pain medication overdoses increased nearly 21-fold from 24 in 1995 to 490 in 2009. In the past decade, the numbers of hospitalizations for prescription pain medication dependence and abuse have doubled.

The Department of Health website ( is your source for a healthy dose of information. Also, find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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Shred Day Spreads Identity Theft Awareness

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

KILLEEN (October 27, 2012)– The Better Business Bureau held a Shred Day event in Killeen Saturday to educate the public on identity theft and fraud prevention.

As drivers pulled into the First National Bank Texas they were greeted by volunteers who unloaded mounds of papers that contained sensitive information. When plastic containers reached their capacity, they were wheeled to a truck that lifted, dumped and shredded thousands of papers that would eventually end up at a recycling plant.

Those who brought old computers had the hard drive taken out and crushed while they watched. Unwanted electronics were also taken. “everything we except will be recycled,” said Richard Kitterman, regional director BBB. “nothing will end up in a landfill including the cardboard boxes that you bring your documents in.” According to Kitterman, all electronic devices will be disassembled, divided into groups and taken to a recycling plant in Denton.

According to Kitterman, each day when you open your mail, there is a lot of stuff that can go immediately into the shredder. Also, periodically go through your documents and files and get rid of paperwork that has aged to the point that they are no longer required for tax purposes. It is also wise to request a free copy of your credit report each year.

“A recent study showed that when an identity theft victim can identify their perpetrator, it turned out to be somebody they knew,” said Kitterman. This information is also echoed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies. According to Federal Trade Commissions website, the top complaint in 2011, and the past twelve years, has been for identity theft.

“as a bank, the mission and intent of shred day really marries with what we do as a business,” said Amanda Stephens, customer experience project manager First National Bank Texas. A fraud department is located within the bank so a customers has a place to go if they have an issue with a stolen debit card or think that someone has tapped into their account, said Stephens.

The Shred Day event was held from 9a.m. To 1p.m. but volunteers had to shut down the paper shredding lanes before noon since the trucks had reached their maximum storage. 14,000 pounds of paper was shredded,
9,000 poundss of electronic waste was taken, 600 pounds of cardboard was broken down, 65 hard drives were crushed, and 409 vehicles dropped off items.

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