Archive for August, 2014

Synthetic identity fraud emerges as growing threat

Friday, August 29th, 2014

Will the real you please stand up? I’m not trying to be funny, I just want to alert you to a new and emerging trend among ID-theft criminals who create a “synthetic” you. Most consumers think of identity theft as a financial event involving our Social Security numbers, credit- and debit-card numbers, banking account and loan numbers.

It’s time to rethink your vulnerability to ID theft because synthetic identity theft and fraud is very lucrative for the bad guys. Criminals more than ever are stealing personally identifiable information to create a new, fictitious person and/or credit-bureau account. This creates a monster headache for those who are victimized, as recovering from synthetic ID theft can take months or years to fix.

Synthetic identity theft and fraud often includes a combination of fake and real credentials using names, Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses and employee identification numbers to create new “synthetic” or fake identities. Traditional identity theft uses an individual’s actual name, Social Security number and other personal information without changing the stolen information — the identity thief pretends to be 100 percent you.

Since synthetic identity theft and fraud uses only some of your actual personal credentials, the fraud does not always show up on your credit-bureau report. Conversely, if negative information is attached to another file that is linked to your credit-bureau report file, this can negatively impact your credit report and credit score.

Synthetic identity theft and fraud is problematic for the credit bureaus to detect, as the information is not an exact match, thus it is difficult to reconcile. Credit bureaus respond to a high volume of mistakes and other incorrect information due to typos, name changes and similar names every day. ID-theft criminals know this and exploit the weakness.

Criminals need only a minimal amount of your true information to commit synthetic ID Theft. This is what makes synthetic ID theft appealing to criminals: They do not need 100 percent of your personal information, they simply “synthesize” it.

As an example, an ID-theft criminal uses your Social Security number and slightly changes other credentials such as your name and address in order to create a new, synthetic identity out of thin air. Based on this new identity, the criminal can open new accounts tied to the fake name and slightly altered credentials. As a result, this new “person” can apply for a job, a new credit card and/or a new cellphone. The worst part is, the credit bureaus won’t immediately know that this isn’t a real person. At some point it will catch up to the real person — you or me!

Mark’s most important: Synthetic-identity theft and fraud is a serious threat, so check your credit-bureau report quarterly at no cost through annualcreditreport.com.

Mark Pribish is vice president and ID-theft practice leader at Merchants Information Solutions Inc., a national ID-theft and background-screening provider based in Phoenix. Reach him at markpribish@merchantsinfo.com.

Article source: http://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/consumer/2014/08/28/synthetic-identity-fraud-emerges-growing-threat/14771559/

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A paper shredder could save college kids from identity theft

Friday, August 29th, 2014

A paper shredder could save college kids from identity theft

CREATED 2:18 PM


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In addition to all the usual school supplies, the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection says parents should include at least one extra device as they get their young scholars off to class this fall.

Article source: http://www.620wtmj.com/news/local/A-paper-shredder-could-save-college-kids-from-identity-theft-273075991.html

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Man charged with identity theft, financial card fraud

Friday, August 29th, 2014

Updated at 3:13 p.m.

RICHLANDS | A former deputy chief of Richlands Volunteer EMS Rescue was arrested and posted bond this week after he allegedly used a one of the agency’s fuel cards to buy gas for his and another person’s vehicles on multiple occasions, according to court documents and comments by a member of that agency.

Kevin James Bell, 26, of Tarawa Boulevard in Tarawa Terrace was arrested Wednesday by Richlands Police Department on four charges of identity theft and four charges of misdemeanor financial card fraud. 

The official at the Richlands Volunteer EMS Rescue wished not to be named but said the former deputy chief had that rank during the alleged purchases but was a regular member before his departure from that post. The official said he no longer is a member of that agency.

Bell is accused of using a government-issued fuel card and another person’s personal identification number April 27 to May 7, according to warrants. On April 27, Bell allegedly used the card to buy $68.97 in gas at Wilco-Hess in Richlands, according to warrants. He also is accused of using the card: to buy $64.07 in fuel for a privately owned vehicle and $46.16 in his own vehicle on April 30; to buy $44.24 in gas for his personal vehicle on May 7, according to warrants. 

All alleged fuel purchases were made at the same gas station. 

The card was the property of Richlands Volunteer EMS Rescue, according to warrants.

Richlands police officials were not immediately available Wednesday afternoon. 

Bond totals $30,000.

Bell was released from custody after posting bond, according to offender data at VINELink.com.

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RICHLANDS | A man was arrested and posted bond after he allegedly used a volunteer rescue squad’s fuel card to buy gas for his and another person’s car on several occasions, according to court documents.

Kevin James Bell, 26, of Tarawa Boulevard in Tarawa Terrace was arrested Wednesday by Richlands Police Department on four charges of identity theft and four charges of misdemeanor financial card fraud. 

Bell is accused of using a government-issued fuel card and another person’s personal identification number April 27 to May 7, according to warrants. On April 27, Bell allegedly used the card to buy $68.97 in gas at Wilco-Hess in Richlands, according to warrants. He also is accused of using the card: to buy $64.07 in fuel for a privately owned vehicle and $46.16 in his own vehicle on April 30; to buy $44.24 in gas for his personal vehicle on May 7, according to warrants. 

All alleged fuel purchases were made at the same gas station. 

The card was the property of Richlands Volunteer EMS Rescue, according to warrants.

Bond totals $30,000.

Bell was released from custody after posting bond, according to offender data at VINELink.com.

Article source: http://www.jdnews.com/news/crime/man-charged-with-identity-theft-financial-card-fraud-1.365086

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Pack your shredder! Identity theft advice for college-bound students

Friday, August 29th, 2014

shredfest

MADISON (WITI) — According to the Federal Trade Commission, one in five identity theft victims is in their 20s. For college students focused on class schedules, socializing and navigating a new and exciting environment, taking steps to protect private information while on campus may be the farthest thing from their minds. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) encourages families to discuss identity theft risks and prevention before a student heads off to campus.

“College students live in close quarters, share personal information online and are less likely to monitor their financial statements and credit reports,” said Sandy Chalmers, Division Administrator for Trade and Consumer Protection. “That adds up to opportunity for an identity thief.”

For many college students, freshman year is their first time away from home and they may be unaware of the need to actively protect their personal information. There are a number of common sense steps that college students can take to keep their personal information from falling into the wrong hands, including:

  • Shred any out-of-date documents that include your personal information. These documents could include school registration forms, bank or credit card statements or health insurance documents.
  • Never carry a Social Security card with you. Keep your number private.
  • Secure the information in your dorm room. Never leave personal documents lying out in the open and consider purchasing a simple lockbox for credit cards, passports or other sensitive documents you may need on campus.
  • Shred credit card offers. If these offers are stolen, a scammer could open lines of credit in your name.
  • Monitor statements monthly. Review your bank and credit card statements and phone bills for unauthorized charges or withdrawals. Get a free copy of your credit reports at annualcreditreport.com and review them for any unauthorized lines of credit.

To further reduce the risk of identity theft, DATCP provides the following online safety tips for college students:

  • Privacy and security settings exist for a reason. Information on social media like birthdates, pet names and travel plans can be used by criminals to hack your accounts or target you in scams.
  • Contact the school’s information technology department. The school may have guidance for incoming students on how to protect web-enabled devices before connecting to the campus network. This department may also provide anti-virus software or hands-on device support for free or at a reduced rate to students.
  • Passwords. Mix letters, numbers and special characters to create passwords that are at least 10 characters long, especially on your email account. Many websites send password update and account access emails to customers, so getting hold of these emails could potentially give a hacker access to all of these online accounts.
  • Protect your devices. Update the operating system and anti-virus software on your devices to target recent viruses and patch any holes that hackers can use to access your system.
  • Lock down your smartphones and tablets. To protect your data and make your devices useless for most thieves, use passcodes on the main screen of your device and set the lock time for only a couple of minutes.
  • Watch out for “free” apps and unsolicited email and text messages. All of these are tools scammers use to spread malicious software. Download programs for your device from an official app store and never click a link in an unsolicited email or text.
  • Surf securely. When shopping or banking online, look for https: or shttp: in the web address. When using a Wi-Fi hotspot, limit the type of business you conduct.

For additional information or to file a complaint, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau at datcp.wisconsin.gov, send an e-mail to datcphotline@wisconsin.gov or call the Consumer Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-422-7128.

Article source: http://fox6now.com/2014/08/28/pack-your-shredder-identity-theft-advice-for-college-bound-students/

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More College Kids Becoming Targets for Identity Theft

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

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Article source: http://www.abc6onyourside.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/more-college-kids-becoming-targets-identity-theft-34634.shtml

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deputy chief of Richlands EMS accused of fraud, identity theft

Thursday, August 28th, 2014


ONSLOW COUNTY –

A former deputy chief of Richlands Volunteer EMS Rescue is accused of using the squad’s fuel card for personal gas purchases.

The Onslow County Sheriff’s Office arrested 26-year-old Kevin James Bell, of Tarawa Terrace, Wednesday morning. He was working as the deputy chief of Richlands Volunteer EMS Rescue, but is no longer a volunteer.

Between April 27 and May 7, Bell allegedly defrauded Richlands Volunteer EMS Rescue by using the squad’s government-issued fuel card to buy gas for his personal vehicle from a WilcoHess in Richlands, warrants say.

According to the warrants, Bell obtained another volunteer’s PIN number –without that person’s permission– in order to use the government-issued fuel card.

The warrants state that Bell used Richlands EMS’ fuel card four times– on April 27, twice on April 30, and finally on May 7. In three of those instances, Bell allegedly used the fuel card to buy gas for his personal vehicle, and in one instance, he used the card to buy gas for another person’s vehicle, according to the warrants.

The gas purchased add up to $223.44, the warrants say.

Bell was dismissed as a volunteer at Richlands Volunteer EMS Rescue two weeks after the last credit card charge.

Bell is charged with four felony counts of identity theft and four misdemeanor counts of financial credit card fraud. At last check, he was being held under a $30,000 bond.

The suspect is scheduled to make his first court appearance Thursday morning.

Bell is also a sergeant with the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, said a base official.

Richlands resident Scott Sherry shared his thoughts on Bell’s arrest.

“I guess they should lead by example. I mean they shouldn’t be doing stuff like that,” said Sherry.

In addition to Bell’s arrest, Richlands Volunteer EMS Rescue is currently under investigation after a complaint was filed regarding medical practices. The squad is suspended from responding to medical calls during the investigation.

“I guess with their lead guy, they could be in a bad place. I mean, I don’t know where they’re headed from here,” said Sherry.

Richlands Police Chief Ron Lindig said the citizens are the people who are most affected by Richland EMS’ troubles.

“The citizens of Richlands and Onslow County are the ones who are really paying for this in the long run by not being able to have their services,” said Lindig.

Chief Lindig said when both legal matters are over, the squad will be a better unit and serve the community like they did in the past.

Article source: http://www.wcti12.com/news/deputy-chief-of-richlands-ems-accused-of-fraud-identity-theft/27757120

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Brookhaven man nets prison term for identity theft

Thursday, August 28th, 2014



PHILADELPHIA A Brookhaven man was sentenced Wednesday to 51 months in prison for stealing the identities of numerous patients of a local hospital as part of a tax fraud scheme, the U.S. Attorneys office reported.

Reynaldo Estrada, 50, pleaded guilty on April 24 to one count each of conspiracy to commit identity theft, aggravated identity theft, and aiding and abetting the use of a false Social Security number. In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Mitchell S. Goldberg ordered three years of supervised release, restitution in the amount of $409,779, and a $300 special assessment.

Between October 2010 and October 2011, while he was working for Crozer-Chester Medical Centers Environmental Services Department in Upland and at Community Hospital in Chester, Estrada stole scores of treatment authorization forms containing patients names, addresses, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers, according to a prepared release.

Estrada admitted that he gave the forms to co-conspirators Rafael Henriquez Polanco and Yanira Lopez, who paid him for the stolen identities, knowing that Polanco and Lopez were using the forms as part of a tax fraud scheme. Polanco and Lopez are charged in a separate indictment with using the identifying information provided by Estrada to prepare and file about 144 false and fraudulent federal individual income tax returns claiming bogus refunds in excess of $1.7 million. Additionally, Polanco is separately charged by information with possessing both powder and crack cocaine with the intent to distribute. Both Polanco and Lopez have pleaded guilty to all charges against them.

The defendant participated in a vast identity theft and tax-refund scheme, which not only defrauded the government of millions in bogus refunds, but it also put individuals personal information and financial future at risk, neither of which will be tolerated, said Special Agent-in-Charge John Kelleghan, of Homeland Security Investigations in Philadelphia.

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, Department of State Diplomatic Security Service, Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Brenner.

Article source: http://www.delcotimes.com/general-news/20140827/brookhaven-man-nets-prison-term-for-identity-theft

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Livingston County man charged with identity theft, forgery

Thursday, August 28th, 2014


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Updated: 08/27/2014 4:19 PM
Created: 08/27/2014 4:17 PM WHEC.com

A Livingston County man is accused of cashing checks in the name of a local Marine currently serving in Italy.

Paul Nahalka, 26, is facing several charges including identity theft and forgery. Police say he cashed three checks at Nunda Napa Auto Parts where he works.

Investigators say Nahalka knew the marine he stole the checks from. They say the two met when they were both stationed together in North Carolina. We’re told Nahalka was then honorably discharged and returned to New York.

He’s being held on $50,000 bail. He also has charges pending in Steuben County.


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Johnson City man arrested on numerous identity theft, drug fraud charges

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Satellite television provider DirecTV is looking into a nationwide outage of local channels on Wednesday.

Article source: http://www.wjhl.com/story/26382834/johnson-city-man-arrested-on-numerous-identity-theft-drug-fraud-charges

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Deputy chief of Richlands EMS accused of fraud, identity theft

Thursday, August 28th, 2014


ONSLOW COUNTY –

A former deputy chief of Richlands Volunteer EMS Rescue is accused of using the squad’s fuel card for personal gas purchases.

The Onslow County Sheriff’s Office arrested 26-year-old Kevin James Bell, of Tarawa Terrace, Wednesday morning. He was working as the deputy chief of Richlands Volunteer EMS Rescue, but is no longer a volunteer.

Between April 27 and May 7, Bell allegedly defrauded Richlands Volunteer EMS Rescue by using the squad’s government-issued fuel card to buy gas for his personal vehicle from a WilcoHess in Richlands, warrants say.

According to the warrants, Bell obtained another man’s PIN number –without that person’s permission– in order to use the government-issued fuel card.

The warrants state that Bell used Richlands EMS’ fuel card four times– on April 27, twice on April 30, and finally on May 7. In three of those instances, Bell allegedly used the fuel card to buy gas for his personal vehicle, and in one instance, he used the card to buy gas for another person’s vehicle, according to the warrants.

The gas purchased add up to $223.44, the warrants say.

Bell is charged with four felony counts of identity theft and four misdemeanor counts of financial credit card fraud. At last check, he was being held under a $30,000 bond.

Bell is scheduled to make his first court appearance Thursday morning.

The suspect is also a sergeant with the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, said a base official.

Article source: http://www.wcti12.com/news/deputy-chief-of-richlands-ems-accused-of-fraud-identity-theft/27757120

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