Archive for July, 2014

Man sentenced to 6 years in identity theft

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

BALTIMORE (AP) — A Baltimore man has been sentenced to more than six years in prison for wire fraud conspiracy and identity theft.

Thirty-year-old Tavares Davon Miller was also ordered to pay more than $105,000 in restitution at sentencing Wednesday in federal court in Baltimore.

According to his plea agreement, in September and October 2012, Miller obtained the identifying information of at least 10 people, and used that information to make driver’s licenses and credit cards.

Prosecutors say Miller and a conspirator went to motorcycle dealers and retailers throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, buying vehicles, electronics and jewelry.

Authorities say Miller then sold the items.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Schiff to host forum on identity theft

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

July 30, 2014 | 2:09 p.m.

On Monday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) will host a forum on identity theft protection at the L.A. Zoo’s Witherbee Auditorium at 7 p.m. intended to teach constituents how to better protect themselves from fraud and what to do in the event that their personal information is used without their permission.

Representatives from the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, the FBI, Federal Trade Commission, the Social Security Administration and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service will be on hand to discuss methods of identity protection.

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  • The forum comes in the wake of a massive international telephone scam that recently hit the La Cañada and neighboring communities, in which suspects claiming to represent the IRS fraudulently demand money transfers to correct tax filing discrepancies.

    So far, more than 20,000 people nationwide have been targeted by the scheme, which has defrauded Americans of more than $1 million.

    “With big data breaches, scams involving persons posing as federal agencies and even pick-pocketing or dumpster-diving, there are more threats facing our personal information than ever before,” Schiff said Wednesday in a release.

    “Only by being vigilant and learning the tools to protect against identity theft can we combat this very widespread and destructive crime,” he added.

    To RSVP for the Aug. 4 forum, call (818) 450-2900 or email Entrance and parking are free for the event.

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    Batavia man charged with identity theft

    Thursday, July 31st, 2014

    BATAVIA – A Batavia man has been charged with aggravated identity theft and other felony charges following a month-long investigation.

    Edward R. Arbet, 55, of the 600 block of North Prairie Street, was charged Wednesday with aggravated identity theft, theft exceeding $300, unlawful use of a credit card and two counts of forgery, all felonies.

    The identity theft is considered aggravated because the victim, a Batavia man, is more than 60 years old, said Batavia Police Detective Kevin Bretz.

    The investigation began in early June 2014, when a store owner reported that Arbet attempted to use a stolen credit card he obtained from an acquaintance to purchase clothing, police said. Arbet continued to use the credit card for goods and cash withdrawals.

    “He used it at [at] least three stores in Batavia, and an ATM or two,” Bretz said.

    Arbet also signed the victim’s name on at least two receipts, police said.

    He is alleged to have stolen more than $1,500 in cash and goods. If convicted on all counts, Arbet could face a maximum jail sentence of 27 years.

    Arbet will appear in court Thursday for a bail hearing. He has been charged by Batavia police in the past for such offenses as disorderly conduct, criminal trespass to land and illegal possession of open alcohol.


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    Miramar man pleads guilty to wire fraud, aggravated identity theft – Sun

    Thursday, July 31st, 2014

    A Miramar man pleaded guilty Tuesday to a count of wire fraud and a count of aggravated identity theft.

    Donald Claude, 34, of Miramar, faces up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud and a mandatory term of two years in prison for aggravated identity theft, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

    According to court documents, Claude had used his position as chief executive officer of JD Tax Services, LLC, to file tax returns electronically in the names of other individuals, according to the Justice Department.

    Claude and his accomplice had obtained the personal identification information of students from an employee of Miami-Dade County Public Schools and used the students’ stolen identities to file fraudulent tax returns with the IRS to obtain tax refunds for their personal benefit, according to the Justice Department. Claude and his co-conspirators caused more than $200,000 in fraudulent tax refund claims to be submitted to the IRS from 2009 through 2011.

    Claude’s sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 24., 954-356-4544 or Twitter @EmilyBethMiller

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    Identity theft expanding with technology

    Thursday, July 31st, 2014

    Technology allows us to instantly communicate with anyone across a vast area of the globe, surf the Web via our cellphone and bank and shop from the comfort of our home.

    But as technology has advanced, so have thieves and ways they steal.

    According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, Americans were hit for $24.7 billion in identity theft in 2012.

    That is $10 billion more than all of the other types of theft combined, including burglary, vehicle theft and other types of theft in the same time period.

    As the crime continues to spread so does the emotional damage left behind.

    According to the Department of Justice’s statistics, 36 percent of identity theft victims reported moderate or severe emotional distress as a result of the incident.

    The victims of identity theft are of all ages, all ethnicities and across all income levels.

    “The people that do this can be anywhere on the globe. It makes no difference to them, it’s a very small world now,” Tyler Police Detective Dave Cook said as he talked about identity theft and the hundreds of cases filed with his department each year.

    Cook said in the majority of cases, victims do not know their information has been compromised until they either notice something on their bank statement or their financial institution contacts them asking about suspicious charges.

    “We get people who tell us they have never been to the place where the charges were incurred, but once that number is stolen, then the thieves can use it anywhere in the world,” he said.

    He said even if you do not do any banking or business online, your information is out there, because it is associated with phone companies, hospitals, credit card companies and the stores you have done business with and various other places.

    “Everyone uses computers to do business, so even if you personally do not use a computer to do business your information is out there and these thieves are always finding ways to get that information to use,” he said.

    In some cases the consumer pays with their card at a business, and the number is cloned by the machine reading the card. The information is stored until it can be retrieved by the person stealing the information.

    Cook said the numbers are stolen in a variety of ways, but then they are most likely passed off to another party via a card dumpsite, a black market for stolen credit and bank cards, where thieves can buy and sell blocks of stolen card numbers.

    One such website is called McDumpals, which is a knockoff of the popular McDonald’s restaurants and even has a similar Ronald McDonald pointing a gun at the Web user with the slogan “I’m swipin it.”

    On the site card numbers are sold and bought by using bitcoin, a currency created in 2009 that allows users to buy services and goods without a trace, leaving those using the currency anonymous.

    “These people have become so brazen about what they are doing, they actually offer money-back guarantees and customer satisfaction,” he said.

    One tell-tale sign that your financial information has been used without your consent is a small charge in a place you might have never been.

    The charge is called a test charge to see if the number is still active. Once the number is proven to be good, then charges are made very quickly until it is picked up by the bank or credit card company.

    The Federal Trade Commission recommends anyone to immediately report cards or numbers stolen if unknown charges appear on bank or credit card statements.

    “If your credit, ATM or debit card is lost or stolen, federal law limits your liability for unauthorized charges. Your protection against unauthorized charges depends on the type of card — and when you report the loss,” the FTC website states.

    Cook and the local FBI office also recommend calling the credit bureaus to report the problem. Usually, only one needs to be contacted as they must share information under the law. Then talk with your financial institution and watch your statements carefully to make sure the theft is over even after changing card numbers and pins.

    Cook said in many cases, the financial institution will clear the charges from your account but suggests the consumer take steps to protect themselves.

    But no matter how much a person safeguards their information, they can still fall victim.

    “We’re all just victims waiting to happen. If you haven’t been compromised in some form or fashion, you will be. It is happening with increasing frequency. The methods that they are using to do this change constantly,” he said.

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    Why are fraudsters targeting your child’s identity?

    Thursday, July 31st, 2014

    Crafting an identity essentially out of thin air: It sounds almost make-believe, but as banks and credit card companies scramble to develop safeguards against the forever-advancing means of what experts deem “true identity theft” – the classic hijacking of another person’s name or financial information – it’s become the fraudster’s near-foolproof alternative.

    “Synthetic identity theft,” as it’s called, accounts for nearly 85 percent of the more than 16 million ID thefts in the United States each year. It’s carried out by “borrowing pieces of information from multiple people, or creating pieces of new information,” said Andrew Gerry, senior vice president of operations for the identity risk management company, Intersections, Inc. “So, your Social Security number combined with an address and a different date of birth or a different location.”

    Anne Wallace, president of the Identity Theft Assistance Center, said the only legitimate piece of information a criminal needs is an address: “It can be anybody’s address, but ideally it’s somewhere the crook can retrieve documents associated with the account they’ve made up,” she said. “Really the rest of the elements of this identity can be fabricated.”

    The Federal Trade Commission flags one example as a cautionary tale: In 2007, an Arizona man with a fraud alert on his account ran a credit check and discovered his Social Security number had been used to manufacture identities in over 30 cases – once to score $9,000 in credit under the “Meet the Parents”-inspired moniker, “Gaylord Focker.”

    “I’m not sure there are people actually reading the applications on a daily basis; a lot of it is computer-automated,” said Kathryn Searles, an inspector with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. “They’re not necessarily looking for a certain type of name, they’re looking for a credit pattern. So it’s quite possible that names such as ‘Gaylord Focker’ could slip through the cracks, and a credit card would be issued.”

    But it typically starts with a pre-existing Social Security number – which makes kids exceptionally vulnerable.

    “It is probably much more lucrative and attractive to criminals to use a child’s Social Security number, simply because they have a blank slate for credit,” explained Searles. “And they usually don’t have a pre-existing profile in the credit reporting companies.”

    What’s more, since young victims don’t usually check their credit scores until they’re applying for a student loan or their first credit cards, “all of a sudden [they] discover that someone’s been using that Social Security number, or their name, or something like that, for years,” Gerry said.

    Registration forms for schools, sports leagues and doctors’ offices often demand a minor’s Social Security number. Searles said the USPIS once worked a case in which “a woman who worked in a medical clinic was selling the Social Security numbers of the children who came in for treatment.”

    That’s why, she went on, “it’s really important for parents to ask questions: Why do you need this information? How long will you be storing it? Who will have access to it?”

    Gerry said more often than not, this specific type of crime isn’t just “mom and pop,” but is “really being done by organized crime – international crime rings, gangs, things like that.” Wallace agreed synthetic ID fraudsters tend to be “very intentional”: “This is a business,” she said. “You and I get up every morning and go to work; we have a job, we know how to do it. They know how to do their job, too.”

    Still, where children are involved, it’s alarmingly common that the predator is a family member or guardian, particularly in foster homes.

    “Whether my credit’s now bad and therefore I can’t get a loan or I can’t get a job, they use the Social Security number of a minor they can find to essentially create a synthetic identity,” Gerry said. “Because it’s there, and they have access to it.”

    Banks and credit card companies have practices in place that freeze accounts and notify the customer of suspicious activity. But in the event of synthetic ID theft, “there’s no real person who’s going to actually catch the fraud and say, ‘Hey, this is my identity; stop using it,'” Searles said.

    But what makes synthetic identities even more elusive is that because they generally only establish “sub-accounts” on an individual’s Social Security number, the actual victims of the crime generally escape unscathed. The real hurt is felt by the duped financial institutions, as well as the customers who are hit with fees as they try to offset their losses.

    “We have this balance going in the economy where people who want access to easy credit, and they want to be able to do it quickly and easily,” Gerry said. So “at the end of the day, if they did everything possible [to prevent fraud], it would be very hard for you as a consumer to get credit.”

    Searles said agencies like hers are working with federal and local law enforcement, banks and credit reporting agencies to develop tools sophisticated enough to counter the increasingly popular synthetic identity theft.

    “It’s definitely a war,” she said. “And there is sophistication on both sides. It’s the big fight – it’s like a cat and mouse game.”

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    Woman sentenced in federal identity theft case stole more than 700 identities – Sun

    Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

    A West Palm Beach woman who stole more than 700 identities was sentenced on Tuesday to 5 years and 10 months in federal prison, according to the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

    Tia Lashonda Miller, 39, had stolen the identities of 726 people to file tax returns and get prescription drugs, according to officials. She and two others would steal mail out of mailboxes and credit cards out of cars, and store the information in a notebook.

    She was arrested in 2012 at the Treasure Coast Mall for breaking into cars and using a credit card that was not in her name. Deputies in Martin County found Miller’s notebook and referred the case to the IRS.

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    IRS investigators found Miller was filling fraudulent tax returns from 2012 into early 2013, records show. 

    She pleaded guilty to unlawful possession and aggravated identity theft earlier this year. 

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    Placer County Sheriff’s Office to host identity theft seminar

    Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

    The Placer County Sheriff’s Office is hosting a theft-prevention seminar on Aug. 25 to show the public how criminals gather information and how to prevent identity theft from happening to them, according to a news release from Placer County officials.

    The seminar will be hosted at the Auburn Justice Center at 2929 Richardson Dr. from 6 to 8 p.m. and led by Detective Ryan West, a financial crimes expert, according to the release.

    To reserve a seat, contact Amanda Rogers at 530-889-6922 or

    Call The Bee’s Quinn Western, (916) 321-1031.

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    ID Theft — It’s a Matter of When

    Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

    You have seen the recent news articles highlighting scams to steal identities using scare tactics: The woman bilked out of $500 by a phone scammer claiming she was delinquent in past taxes; the woman who was told she owed IRS $2,000 and if she didn’t pay the money within 24 hours she would be picked up by the local police and jailed for six months; the man who received an e-mail telling him to update his IRS files immediately by just following the link to comply — and lost all of his vital bank account information; even the recently naturalized citizen who received a phone call demanding personal and account information to pay an IRS debt or a local federal immigration agent would be sent to deport him.

    All of these are very real and frightening scams, aimed at stealing money and identities of people, like you. Today’s scams use more sophisticated tactics than the previously favored e-mail scam asking people to send money for someone in need in a foreign country. Today, these sophisticated scams show “IRS” on the recipients caller ID, include a uniformed “police officer” arriving in person to reinforce the threats, or even email taxpayers from websites that look just like the real thing.

    What can you do to protect yourself?

    There are some very simple steps you can take to better safeguard or lock your most important asset — namely your personal information and financial security.

    Simple steps if you feel you are being targeted, especially via phone or email. First, verify the phone call or e-mail. The IRS, other federal government departments and state and local governments will not initiate collections or information gathering with a phone call. Do NOT give money or personal or financial information to a telephone caller or email sender. Just do not do it — EVER. Instead, get all the information you can, including the name of the caller, the phone number from the caller or caller ID as well as a call-back number from the caller, and the name of the government department or the organization supposedly calling you. Then HANG UP the PHONE! Yes, hang up and call the public number listed for that department or organization — it is easy to find in your phone book or using the Internet on your computer to look it up. For example, the IRS toll-free number is 800-829-1040 and your local police department number is listed in the phone book or can be found online under your county government’s website. So the first easy way to prevent ID theft over the phone or email is to take 10 minutes and verify the identity of the caller or sender. If they are legitimate (unlikely that it is), they will NOT mind you taking a moment to verify. All of the agencies I work with are fine with you taking a moment to verify and prevent the growth of identity theft crime. If the caller gives you any pushback, that is another key indicator of identity theft. So beware of phone or email pressure to ACT NOW. It is likely fake.

    If you have been contacted by e-mail, do NOT click on any links. Clicking on the link can activate a virus on your computer that goes through your computer files and activities and collects your personal information. Scams involving e-mail, known as phishing, generally have an address that is similar to an actual website address such as IRSgov instead of If you receive a suspicious e-mail that appears to be from the IRS, forward the e-mail to If you feel that you are a victim of an identity theft scam, file a complaint at

    Identity theft is everywhere and takes many forms and new scams are appearing every day. Here are some additional tips to protect yourself:

    • Don’t carry your Social Security card, or any other identification with your Social Security Number, in your wallet or purse. Instead make a point of bringing it with you only when it is needed.
    • Don’t give out your Social Security number without verifying it is necessary.
    • Don’t give out your personal information unless you initiated the conversation or you verify the person/company requesting the information.
    • Don’t put your personal information on the internet. Once the information is out there it is hard to get it back, and ID thieves now how to collect the pieces of information and put them together.
    • Check your financial accounts monthly and immediately report any unauthorized activity in your account. Look for small amounts, but many times and monthly.
    • Check your credit report with each of the three main agencies annually.
    • Secure your personal information in your home.
    • Protect your personal computers, tablets, and smart phones with anti-spam/anti-virus software.
    • Change your passwords on all of your accounts at least once a year and preferably more often. Even though a headache — it will save you much pain later.

    Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes nationwide and it is only getting bigger every day. According to top industry specialists, almost everyone’s personal information has ALREADY been stolen in one form or another, and will be again soon, it is just a matter of time. Protect yourself now and in the future, because prevention is much simpler than having to go through the repercussions of having your identity stolen. After all, If your plan is “it will not happen to me,” you may need to consider a better plan.

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    Muhlenberg Woman Arrested in Identity Theft Case

    Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

    Sheriff Curtis McGehee

    MUHLENBERG COUNTY, Ky. (7/29/14) — A Muhlenberg County woman has been charged in an identity theft case that began earlier this month.

    According to a Muhlenberg County Sheriff’s Office report, Deputy B.W. DeArmond opened the investigation after a victim reported having multiple credit cards taken out in his name and checks being written on his account.

    After the investigation, DeArmond arrested Tonya L. Payne and charged her with eight counts of identity theft, eight counts of credit card receipt and two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument.

    The investigation is ongoing and more arrests are expected.

    DeArmond was assisted by the Greenville Police Department.

    SurfKY News
    Information provided by Sheriff Curtis McGehee

    © Copyright 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story by using one of the social media links below.

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