Archive for October, 2013

Minnesota identity theft scheme nets 33 federal convictions

Thursday, October 31st, 2013



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    Kara Derner, an outpatient therapist at Sioux Trails Mental Health Center in St. Peter, Minn., had her identity stolen when she applied for her license to practice. The plot involved fake driver’s licenses and stolen Social Security numbers. Fortunately, thieves were unable to cash checks on her bank account.

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    Ruth Linehan’s first sign of trouble was a notice that her checking account was overdrawn.

    Someone had stolen a box of her checks from the mailbox of her south Minneapolis apartment building and had cashed six or seven checks totaling thousands of dollars.

    That was in 2008.

    Five years later, federal authorities are wrapping up the prosecution of one of the largest identify theft rings ever caught in Minnesota, a criminal enterprise that was hatched here but sprawled over 14 states and involved more than 100 people.

    Through break-ins, thefts and insider information, the thieves acquired private identification data and used it to steal more than $2.5 million, victimizing hundreds of people plus banks and major retailers.

    The last of six ringleaders, Gordon Moore, 42, who lived in the Twin Cities, was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson. Moore is one of 33 participants convicted in federal court, with about 25 more convicted in state court. Magnuson differed with Moore’s attorney, who described the operation as a garden-variety crime ring while asking for leniency.

    “This is, in my experience, the most complex, involved, massive conspiracy for fraud and identity theft that I have seen,” Magnuson said. “Frankly, it was the most sophisticated in my experience.”

    Moore, who has a lengthy criminal history, fled during his identity theft trial in April and was convicted in absentia. He was arrested July 8 at a hotel in Milwaukee.

    Five other ringleaders were previously sentenced for terms ranging from 10 to 25 years.

    “These defendants breached [public] trust and wreaked havoc in our community and our institutions,” said Nicole Enisch, chief of the criminal division of the U.S. attorney’s office. “It is one of the largest identity theft cases our office has ever prosecuted.”

    ‘Immeasurable hardship’

    The bravado of the operation was staggering.

    Robin Finger, a receptionist with the state Board of Psychology who was drawn into the conspiracy by Moore, stole personal information, including Social Security numbers, of 60 psychologists. She fed the data to ringleaders who used a phalanx of individuals to breach the psychologists’ checking accounts.

    Other participants in the ring worked at the St. Paul Postal Credit Union; Sonus, a hearing aid company; Wells Fargo Bank; and Pearson, an education company.

    More information was obtained by thieves who broke into businesses, homes and cars, stealing checkbooks, mail and purses.

    “These defendants caused immeasurable hardship to innocent victims,” said Kelly Jackson, special agent in charge of IRS criminal investigations in the St. Paul field office.

    Investigation a team effort

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    Survey Commissioned by FreeScoresAndMore Shows Identity Theft as Largely …

    Thursday, October 31st, 2013




    STAMFORD, Conn., Oct. 30, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — FreeScoresAndMore™, a provider of credit scores, monitoring and identity theft protection, today released the results of a survey that shows identity theft is essentially socioeconomically demographic-agnostic. The company analyzed the likelihood of being a victim across a wide array of traits, including age, gender, household income, home ownership, marriage and education.

    Identity theft can impact consumers in many ways. For example, thieves can perpetrate “new account fraud,” which is when they open lines of credit in someone else’s name. These can include credit cards, utilities or even cell phone accounts. In some cases, consumers would not know about these accounts until they were contacted by a collections agency. In extreme cases, thieves may have purchased a house in someone else’s name, while the victim never knows they are a “homeowner.”

    By and large, there was no single attribute that decreased the odds of consumers reporting  they had been a victim. For example, men reported being defrauded at a rate of almost 24%, while women came in at close to 22%. Consumers who were married were 23% likely to identify themselves as being a victim, which matched their unmarried counterparts identically. Geographically, living in the Northeast, Midwest, South or West had virtually no impact on whether or not consumers had suffered from fraud.

    “Data shows that thieves will target anyone they believe they can turn into a victim, making identity theft a truly equal opportunity crime,” said Frank W. Abagnale, Secure Document and ID Theft Consultant associated with the FBI for over 35 years and best-selling author. “Consumers need to be aware that regardless of their particular demographics, they’re at risk of having their information stolen.”

    The only demographic that showed any meaningful differentiation from the national average was age. While consumers in the 18-54 age range came in close to average, people aged 55+ saw a decrease of 4% in terms of likeliness to report themselves a victim of identity theft.

    The survey was commissioned by FreeScoresAndMore, and performed by Survey Sampling International, using a panel of 1,000 self-selected consumers.

    About FreeScoresAndMore

    FreeScoresAndMore is a provider of 3 bureau credit scores and identity theft protection services. We help consumers nationwide manage and protect their credit and identity by providing a full range of tools and services as part of the FreeScoresAndMore offering. Members can access their 3 bureau credit scores, receive 24/7 credit alerts via 3 bureau credit file monitoring, and also have access to identity theft protection and resolution services. The scores provided with FreeScoresAndMore, as developed by CreditXpert®, Inc., are designed to help consumers understand their credit. FreeScoresAndMore is endorsed by Frank Abagnale, the author of the book and real-life hero of the movie Catch Me If You Can, who also consults for the company and has been associated with the FBI for over 35 years.

    FreeScoresAndMore is a part of Affinion Group, a global leader in the credit information and identity theft protection space. With over 40 years history, Affinion’s credit and identity services are trusted by millions of consumers nationwide.

    SOURCE FreeScoresAndMore

    Article source: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/survey-commissioned-by-freescoresandmore-shows-identity-theft-as-largely-indiscriminate-crime-229846361.html

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    Fight ID theft with these weapons

    Thursday, October 31st, 2013

    Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 12:00 am
    |


    Updated: 4:47 am, Wed Oct 30, 2013.

    Fight ID theft with these weapons

    By PHIL MULKINS World Business Writer

    TulsaWorld.com

    |
    0 comments

    If you’ve already revealed personal financial information to someone on the phone posing as Medicare or Social Security, you are at risk of identity theft. ID theft happens when criminals use your credit card numbers, or bank numbers, or Social Security number to order credit cards with your numbers and then have them delivered to the thief’s address. They go on a shopping spree and you learn this when the bill arrives.


    The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Social Security Administration remind seniors these agencies will never call you to update information or give you a new card. If a caller asks for your personal information, do not provide it.

    There are four weapons in your “emergency anti-fraud kit,” says the Experian website — the fraud alert (initial, active duty and extended) or the security freeze.

    Fraud alerts: These are red flags for anyone looking at your credit file. They alert credit grantors you might have been the victim of suspicious activity. Fraud alerts warn them to verify legitimacy of requests for new credit, extensions of credit on existing accounts or additional cards on existing accounts. Initial fraud alerts remain in force 90 days, active duty alerts last for one year and extended fraud alerts last seven years.

    Initial fraud alert: This is placed when you believe you’re a victim of fraud or are at risk of being a victim. When you or someone else attempts to open a credit account in your name, increase the credit limit on an existing account, or obtain a new card on an existing account, the lender should take steps to verify you have authorized the request. When you place an initial fraud alert on your credit report, you’re entitled to one free credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting companies. Ask and only the last four digits of your Social Security number will appear on your credit reports.

    Military/active duty alert: When you’ve been called to active duty military service away from your usual duty post, this type of alert works the same as the initial fraud alert, except it remains on your file for 12 months, and removes your name from pre-screened credit offers for two years.

    Extended fraud alert: If you know you’re a victim, also place this on your credit file, where it remains for 7 years and requires creditors to verify your request by contacting you through phone numbers you provided the credit reporting agency when you requested the extended fraud alert. To place one, you must write to one of the nationwide credit reporting agencies and provide a valid police “Identity Theft Report” showing you are an ID theft victim and provide day and evening telephone numbers.

    With this alert, you may request two extra free credit file disclosures, and your name is removed from prescreened offers of credit or insurance for five years.

    For any of these alerts, you will receive a confirmation when they are added to your credit file. They do not prevent third parties from viewing your credit file. However, third parties are required to take steps to verify you have authorized their activity on your account if they see a fraud alert on the credit file. They still provide lenders with access to credit files and the ability to give credit to anyone they wish.

    Tulsa World consumer writer Phil Mulkins wants to know which topics interest you. Call 918-699-8888, email your suggestion to phil.mulkins@tulsaworld.com or mail it to Tulsa World Consumer, PO Box 1770, Tulsa, OK 74102-1770.

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    Wednesday, October 30, 2013 12:00 am.

    Updated: 4:47 am.


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    Article source: http://www.tulsaworld.com/business/consumer/fight-id-theft-with-these-weapons/article_8d01baf4-1a08-5528-b250-845937257c09.html

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    Woman in prison for identity theft

    Thursday, October 31st, 2013

    JUNEAU | A 42-year-old woman was sentenced to four years in the state prison system Tuesday after being convicted of taking another woman’s purse and using her identification while running to another state.

    Sarah E. Wittrock, Taycheedah Correctional Institution, pleaded guilty to identity theft for financial gain. Charges of theft of moveable property under $2,500, impersonating a peace officer and resisting or obstructing an officer were dismissed but read into the record.

    Judge Joseph Sciascia ordered 48 months in the state prison system, broken into 24 months of initial confinement and 24 months of extended supervision, consecutive to any previously imposed sentence.

    According to the criminal complaint, officers were called on May 18, 2010, at 5:10 p.m., for a woman reporting her purse had been stolen from her unlocked vehicle while she was at a day care in Beaver Dam. A suspicious woman had been seen in the area, but was no longer there. At 10:15 p.m. that night, the woman’s husband met with officers at the police station, telling them that he had received a call from a woman claiming to be a Beaver Dam police officer who said that they had found his wife’s purse. Officers later confirmed that the purse had not been found, and the woman was not a police officer.

    The complaint states that on May 19, a woman called the officer, claiming to be the victim and stating that her purse had been found. Officers confirmed that the victim had not actually called them and the purse was still missing. The purse was later found by a city worker. Some checks and other items were missing. Someone attempted to use the ATM card at Horicon Bank in Horicon and police were able to obtain video footage of the person, later identified as Wittrock.

    According to the complaint, Beaver Dam detectives received a call on May 17, 2011, from an officer in South Bend, Ind., who had arrested Wittrock the prior evening. The officer told detectives that Wittrock had attempted to offer him the identification of the victim, insisting that she wasn’t Wittrock. Eventually she admitted that she had taken the victim’s purse, because getting a fake identification was expensive and she no longer wanted to serve her probation in Wisconsin. She said she had attempted to be transferred, but had been denied.

    The complaint states that she admitted to making phone calls to both the victim and the police, as well as sending text messages to her family and friends pretending to be someone else. she said she told them that she was in a vehicle crash and had died so that no one would look for her. She said she attempted to get a car, a loan and unemployment using the victim’s name. She said that she altered the Social Security number so that the victim wouldn’t have to pay taxes on the money that Wittrock made working using the other woman’s identification. She ultimately admitted to numerous identity thefts in four states.

    Article source: http://www.wiscnews.com/bdc/news/local/article_3664282c-e00a-571c-a37a-1641d572549c.html

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    What is Business or Commercial Identity Theft?

    Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

    Business or commercial identity theft happens when thieves use an existing business’ name to get credit, or they may bill a business’ clients for products and services. Sometimes the Social Security number of a company’s officer or another representative is required to commit business identity theft.

    A big problem is that identifiers, such as federal IDs or employer identification numbers, are readily available in public records, dumpsters, or internally at banks and other creditors—which makes the ease of access to these numerical identifiers a catalyst for business identity theft. Business identity theft perpetrators are often former employees or current employees with direct access to the books and other forms of financial documentation. These schemers have ample opportunity to pad the books in favor of fraud.

    Business identity theft victims don’t usually find out about the crime until big-time losses accumulate, or an audit occurs and someone discovers discrepancies on the books. Because of the hidden nature of the transactions, businesses can lose vast amounts of money. Business identity theft can remain undetected for years.

    How can you protect yourself from business or commercial identity theft?

    • Inside job: Business identity theft, or commercial identity theft, is an inside job. Employees often have access to documents that include owners’ and board members’ Social Security numbers, as well as the business’ tax ID number.
    • Need-to-know basis: This information must only be accessed on a need-to-know basis by employees with proper credentialing. Even then, be suspect. It is imperative that this information stays secure.
    • Checks and balances: Organizations should put a check-and-balance system into place, ensuring that for every employee who has access to company accounts, there are two employees—preferably upper management—who are assigned to make sure the books are balanced, that no money is missing, and that financial statements are double-checked for inaccuracies.
    • Forensic accountants on retainer: In some instances, it is necessary to contract with forensic accountants or examiners to pay close attention to a business’ books and work to put monitoring systems in place.
    • Identity theft protection: Identity theft protection can be a helpful tool to keep officers or owners informed of potential illicit activities, because a Social Security number is often required to open accounts under a business’ name.

    Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247. Disclosures.

    Article source: http://www.blogher.com/what-business-or-commercial-identity-theft-0?from=pop

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    Officials arrest Thousand Oaks man accused of identity theft in Moorpark

    Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

    A 28-year-old Thousand Oaks man was arrested last week in connection with the theft of credit card information while he was a pizza deliveryman, officials said.

    In September, Moorpark sheriff’s deputies responded to a pizza restaurant after a customer said a delivery person inappropriately wrote down the credit card number of a patron during a delivery. At the time, there was no evidence that the number was used.

    Soon after, the owner received another complaint from a patron whose credit card was “compromised” after the patron bought a pizza from the restaurant, officials said.

    The owner conducted an investigation and found that the same man was responsible in the two incidents, police said. The owner fired the man, and the Moorpark Police Department’s investigations unit took over.

    Detectives found evidence that showed the man used both patrons’ stolen credit card information to buy gift cards from Starbucks and use the gift cards to get cash, officials said.

    The man was arrested and charged with two counts of identity theft.

    The man had more stolen credit cards and personal information from other victims that police think he obtained during his job as a pizza deliveryman.

    Detectives encourage other potential victims to call the Police Department at 532-2700.

    Article source: http://www.vcstar.com/news/2013/oct/29/thousand-oaks-man-accused-of-identity-theft-in/

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    TMZ Sports: Aaron Hernandez — Targeted … for ID Theft in Jail

    Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

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    Article source: http://www.tmz.com/2013/10/29/tmz-sports-aaron-hernandez-garrett-mcnamara-mike-tyson-chris-brown-lebron-james-lindsey-vonn-tiger-woods-freddie-mitchell-lamar-odom/

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    Sultan man held in ID theft case

    Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

    Services, garage sales, pets, items for sale

    Article source: http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20131029/NEWS01/710299941/Sultan-man-held-in-I.D.-theft-case-

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    Nutley Police Charge Man With Identity Theft, Fraud

    Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

    Nutley police say a Bronx man tried to use falsified
    documents and cards to cash a bad check at a Nutley bank.

    On Saturday, Oct. 19, bank employees called police after Nevelle
    Grant, 30, tried to cash a fraudulent check.

    Grant reportedly gave police a fake identity and provided personal
    documents, including a fake license and social security card as well as an AARP
    card and MasterCard, attesting to that identity. He reportedly insisted the
    check was written to him and signed by the rightful owner.

    Police said Grant’s identity was revealed and he was
    arrested and charged with two counts of false government documents (the fake
    license and social security card), forgery, bad checks, impersonation/theft of
    identity and hindering.

    Grant’s Bail was set at $25,000 with 10 percent option. When
    he was unable to post bail he was taken to Essex County Jail.

    Article source: http://belleville.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/nutley-police-charge-man-with-identity-theft-fraud

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    Preventing Identity Theft

    Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

    Identity theft can not only hurt you, but also your family and your command.

    In the digital age, your personal identifiable information can be accessed by seizing information in the cyber realm. In years past, predators who wanted to steal your identity used a paper trial. Now, we have to defend ourselves from both our paper trail and digital footprint.

    How can you protect yourself? Most importantly, you have to keep your information private, whether it’s in cyberspace or in your file cabinet. The first line of defense against identity theft is you.

    Check out these videos from the Pentagon Channel and the U.S. Navy to learn a few more tips to keep your identity safe.

    ———-

    Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DoD website.

    Check out these other posts:

    Article source: http://www.dodlive.mil/index.php/2013/10/preventing-identity-theft/

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