Archive for October, 2014

Women arrested in dumpster-diving ID theft

Friday, October 31st, 2014

ROUND ROCK, Texas (AP/KXAN) — Two women digging through trash behind a Round Rock hotel have been arrested after police say they were gathering information for identity thieves. Robin Secor was arrested on forgery, theft and drug charges — as well as possession of identifying information. Erin Terry was arrested on a drug possession charge.

The women remained jailed Wednesday after being arrested by the Round Rock Police Department outside of an Extended Stay hotel last week. The women initially told police they were rummaging for scrap metal, but officers say they found folders containing the names, credit card numbers, or social security numbers of more than 50 people who stayed at the hotel, were applicants, or who worked at different Extended Stay locations.

Secor tells officers such information is commonly traded for drugs and that she has exchanged hundreds of similar folders with different people.

Court records show police found 9.2 grams of what a field tested positive to be methamphetamine and 0.4 grams of what field tested positive to be cocaine.

KXAN reached out to Extended Stay for its policies on securing personal information. The company declined to answer the question, only saying that “the safety and security of our guests is our main priority, and we are cooperating with the proper authorities during the investigation.”

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Identity theft ring busted in Wisconsin: “You could spend a lifetime trying to …

Friday, October 31st, 2014

BROWN DEER (WITI) —  A family of thieves is busted in Brown Deer and it leads to an investigation of crimes throughout the Midwest.

Surveillance video from October 4th, 2012  shows a crime in progress at the Kohl’s on Green Bay Road.

Verita Hines-Flagg and her nephew are about to be caught spending other people’s money.

“They are going to stores in Brookfield, Fox Point, Brown Deer, City of Milwaukee,” says Brown Deer Police Officer, Mark Rooney.

But on this day, Lauren Doberstein was watching. She was the Loss Prevention Supervisor for Kohl’s.

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Former Kohl’s Loss Prevention Supervisor, Lauren Doberstein, reported crime to police.

“The subjects entered the jewelry department and immediately walked up to the counter to open a charge card,” Doberstein  says, “What I was able to notice is they began selecting a large amount of merchandise in a relatively short period of time.  The merchandise they were selecting was fairly random in my opinion. A lot was selected without too much concern to price,  size, anything like that.”

When they got out to the parking lot, Doberstein noticed the license plate didn’t match the state they put on the application.

“They opened the back hatch of their SUV to put the merchandise in and literally, like, I don’t know how to say it any other way, but they were literally shoving it in to any open, like, crevice,” says Doberstein.

Brown Deer Police arrested them and eventually, the case went so deep, six law enforcement agencies had to get involved.

“For me, they were the most sophisticated ring of identity theft. At the beginning we didn’t even know what it was,” says Assistant U.S. Attorney, Karine Moreno-Taxman.

Turns out the SUV’s were stolen too for a total of $300,000 and all the items they stole were sold out of Detroit. Federal agents raided the fencing place and say the crew considered it a job and referred to the scam as “going to work.”

idtheft mugs

Verita Hines-Flagg (left) and Benjamin Hines III (right) are both serving prison time for identity theft.

How did they do it? Hines-Flagg went to work on people with good credit, searching online, getting credit reports and all the information she needed. Authorities still aren’t sure how she was able to get the information to unlock the reports.

In the end, Verita Hines-Flagg was sentenced to five years in prison and her nephew got 18 months.

How can you tell if someone has stolen your information? Contact 6 says to look for unexplained withdrawals from your bank account, beware of calls from debt collectors about bills that aren’t yours, check your credit report for unfamiliar charges and pay attention to data breaches where you shop. If you think you’ve fallen victim of identity theft contact the Federal Trade Commission.

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Consumer horror stories abound in new ID-theft report

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Wealthy or minimum wage, whether a baby or baby boomer, the “Aftermath Survey” by the Identity Theft Resource Center reveals you’re an ID-theft target.

That’s just the beginning of what I gathered Wednesday at Google’s Washington, D.C., headquarters where the survey was presented before its international release. The points in this column represent the very the latest on ID theft.

The ITRC surveys victims who have reached out for support. This data helps the identity theft industry better understand root causes, illicit methods and the recovery experience. I conduct similar fact-finding each quarter from large organizations as co-chair of the Merchants ID Theft Advisory Board, which includes leaders from Avnet, KPMG, Cox Communications, the FBI and several other organizations.

At the event I spent time with Terrell McSweeny, commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission, who gave the keynote presentation, and Eva Velasquez, President/CEO of the ITRC, who served as a panelist discussing survey results.

Velasquez, shared some consumer horror stories from the survey, including one victim who said, “I haven’t been able to get a loan to go back to school and finish my degree, which has made finding a job nearly impossible.”

Key survey findings:

New utility and cellphone accounts are targets for identity thieves. One out of four victims with new accounts became ID-theft victims.

Identity theft involving existing financial accounts was experienced by 52 percent of participants. Yet seven of 10, or 71 percent, of those who experienced ID theft did not change financial institutions.

Criminal identity theft continues to have an impact. Approximately 1 in 5 of the survey respondents dealt with this issue in some manner.

Nearly 40 percent of respondents reported identity theft issues involving the government. In cases of tax-related identity theft, only 55 percent of respondents who dealt with the Internal Revenue Service had received their appropriate refund at the time they responded to the survey.

Most victims discovered medical identity theft when the medical provider or a collection agency sought payment for services never received.

Inability to resolve the issue and lingering effects: More than half of the respondents had not yet been able to resolve their identity theft issues; 35 percent had their ability to obtain credit affected; 22 percent were still being called by collection agencies; and nearly 20 percent had their job, or ability to get a job, impacted.

Behavior changes after being a victim: 50 percent of respondents checked their credit reports more regularly.

Despite being victims of identity theft, 94.2 percent of the respondents are still highly engaged online and on their mobile devices. Online is a huge portal for consumer transactions, small to large, and government must continue to employ ever-improving ID-theft prevention and mitigation techniques.

Mark’s most important: Excuses or being too busy to learn the latest on ID theft won’t protect you, your family, employees or customers. Go to to read the full “Aftermath Survey.”

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

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Bay City woman charged with 12 counts of identity theft for using credit cards …

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Cindy Lou Hadd

BAY CITY, MI — A Bay City woman is charged with a dozen counts of stealing other people’s identities for personal profit, scamming her Malaysian-based accomplice in the process, police said.

Bay County District Judge Dawn A. Klida on Wednesday, Oct. 29, arraigned 43-year-old Cindy Lou Hadd on 12 counts of identity theft. The charge is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

The charges stem from an investigation police began Friday, Sept. 19, when Melissa Balin of North Hollywood, California, called them to file an identity theft complaint. Balin said she was calling on behalf of her father, Richard Balin, court records show.

Melissa Balin said her father had a Chase Bank credit card and on Sept. 15, he received an email seeking to confirm his request to add Hadd as an authorized user. Richard Balin told his bank the request was a fraud, court records show.

Richard Balin then got a second email from Chase asking if he changed his account password and security question. Balin called his bank and canceled his cards, court records show.

He then received yet another email confirming his request for a new card, which he hadn’t yet made, court records show.

Melissa Balin told police that Chase sent new cards via UPS to Hadd, who signed for them the next day. Richard Balin called Chase, who told him his new cards had been used to pay for $678.95 at Charter Communications, court records show.

Investigators determined Hadd used her own Social Security number to open the account in Richard Balin’s name, court records show. Chase investigators also confirmed to police that on Sept. 14, someone changed Richard Balin’s email address, phone number, and home address to Hadd’s, court records show.

Police spoke with Hadd on Monday, Oct. 6. She told them she received numerous credit cards and used them to buy about $900 in food and $500 in clothes, as well as $678 to Charter and $500 to Consumers Energy. She said she bought the cards from a guy in Malaysia and that she was supposed to send items she bought with the cards back to him, court records show.

“I did not buy anything for the guy that sent me the cards,” she told police, according to court documents. “I mailed him some old computer things.”

Asked by police if she was scamming the initial scammer by buying things for herself and sending him junk, and she said yes, court records show. Hadd also said she bought items like jewelry, a TV and laptops and sold them for cash at area pawn shops, though she gave one laptop to her niece, court records show.

A Capital One branch later informed police that they’d suffered a fraud loss of $14,214.16 due to Hadd’s use of bogus credit cards, court records show. Police also determined there were 11 people beside Richard Balin who had cards opened in their names and used by Hadd, according to court records.

At Hadd’s arraignment, Klida set her bond at $50,000 cash-surety. If she posts it, she is not to have contact with any of her alleged victims.

Hadd is to appear for a preliminary examination at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 12.

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Westfield police release photos of duo suspected in identity theft probe – The Republican

Friday, October 31st, 2014

WESTFIELD — Police have released photos of a man and woman suspected of identity theft, hoping that anyone who recognizes the duo will contact authorities as soon as possible.

Westfield Police Detective Scott Phelon said investigators are asking anyone who knows their whereabouts to call (413) 642-9390.

Phelon said the pictures were taken in August at ATM machines in West Springfield within minutes of each other, and the pair likely know each other. They’re suspected of withdrawing money from accounts that don’t belong to them, he said.

Identity theft occurs when someone wrongfully obtains another’s personal information without their knowledge to commit theft or fraud, according to the FBI, which has been dealing with the issue for decades.

But the advent of the Internet has exacerbated the problem, helping to transform identity theft into a multibillion-dollar headache for the U.S.

In 2012, an estimated 16.6 million people experienced at least one incident of identity theft, with total financial losses reaching nearly $25 million, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports.

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More than 2 dozen charged in identity theft, bank fraud conspiracy

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

A bank supervisor, three check counterfeiters, and even a door-to-door meat seller are accused of stealing or planning to steal millions of dollars.

Federal prosecutors in Minneapolis have charged 28 people in an identity theft and bank fraud conspiracy.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said Tuesday the scheme was the largest and most sophisticated in Minnesota. He said it was highly organized, with the counterfeiters at the top, a dozen recruiters, and seven runners who cashed the phony checks.

Members of the group targeted thousands of victims over several years, Luger said. He estimated the fraud at more than $2 million.

The U.S. Attorney’s office said the check manufacturers included Sienemah Terrance Gaye, 30, of Anoka, Finoh Sahr Fillie, 28, of Brooklyn Park, and Karzil Renaldo Cannedy, 23. Cannedy is being held in the Sherburne County Jail.

Two sisters, one a TCF Bank branch supervisor in Crystal and the other a Central Bank teller, stole account and other personal information from customers and gave it to the group, according to Luger.

A statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office identified the bank supervisor as 20-year-old Felisha Hassim and the teller as 23-year-old Annesa Hassim. Both are from Blaine.

“They were in the jobs and they were recruited by the organization to assist the organization,” Luger said.

The door-to-door meat salesman stole account information when customers paid by check, according to the charges. The group also allegedly swiped account numbers from photos of paychecks people posted on social media, some using the #myfirstpaycheck hashtag.

Luger said social media postings on Instagram revealed other personal information, like check routing numbers.

“That’s the kind of information that’s critical to a criminal organization like this,” Luger said.

Mark Goldman, a spokesman for TCF Bank, said the bank has been cooperating with authorities since the investigation’s early stages, and none of its customers lost any money as a result of the scheme. Goldman said the former branch supervisor has not worked at TCF since December 2012.

Most of the 25 who were indicted and three others who were charged separately have made initial court appearances.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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Immigrant agrees to deportation after ID theft

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

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Woman faces charges in identity theft cases

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Jenna Carter, 34, possibly linked to other cases

SAN ANTONIO – A 34-year-old woman has been arrested on charges related to using a fake driver’s license with another woman’s name to rent out a storage unit.


However, it appears San Antonio police may be tying Jenna Carter to many more cases of identity theft.

An arrest warrant affidavit references one case in particular. It involves a woman who had reported a car burglary on Oct. 11 in which her purse, containing her driver’s license, was stolen.

The affidavit stated that Carter rented a storage unit in the 8000 block of Fredericksburg Road the same day, apparently using a fake driver’s license with the victim’s name on and other identifying information on it.

On Oct. 15, members of the San Antonio Regional Task Force stopped a vehicle which proved to be stolen and detained Carter and a man on outstanding warrants and a charge of possession of a stolen vehicle, the affidavit stated.

At that time, investigators said they found the suspects with multiple forms of U.S. mail, credit cards, checks counterfeit ID cards and other documents belonging to about 40 different people and businesses.

Although both were taken into custody at that time, the new charges of fraudulent use of ID and tampering with government records were added on Wednesday.

The affidavit does not mention the name of the man who was detained or any additional charges that have been filed against him.

Copyright 2014 by KSAT – All rights reserved.


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Minnesotans charged in alleged ID theft and Instagram bank fraud schemes –

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Twenty-eight people have been charged in what U.S. Attorney Andy Luger called a pervasive identity theft and bank fraud scheme to steal more than $2 million by creating fake checks and cashing them at dozens of banks and check-cashing businesses.

The defendants include a former branch supervisor at a TCF Bank in Crystal and a former teller at a Central Bank branch. Prosecutors said Tuesday that they used their access to give account numbers and balance information to three check manufacturers. The manufacturers then used blank check stock and check-printing software to make fake checks, which were cashed by other defendants.

Another defendant was a door-to-door meat salesman who authorities said took legitimate checks from customers as payment, then gave copies to other members of the conspiracy so they could be used to make fake checks.

Court documents say the defendants also got account numbers and bank routing information through the social media website Instagram, after victims posted pictures of themselves and their first paychecks online using the hashtag #myfirstpaycheck.

Authorities said the conspiracy lasted from Nov. 14, 2007, to Sept. 11, 2013. The charges were announced Tuesday as defendants were being arrested in Minnesota, Oregon and North Dakota. Twenty-five defendants were charged by indictment, and three were charged by felony information.

Louis Stephens, the head of the U.S. Secret Service office in Minneapolis, said more than 75 federal, state and local law officers were involved in the investigation.

“Today, thanks to talented investigators, analysts and prosecutors, a significant identity theft ring adept at victimizing Minnesota businesses and citizens is no longer in business,” Stephens said.

Mark Goldman, a spokesman for TCF Bank, said the bank has been cooperating with authorities since the investigation’s early stages, and none of its customers lost any money as a result of the scheme. Goldman said the former branch supervisor has not worked at TCF since December 2012.

Larry Albert, Central Bank’s CEO, said the teller who was indicted is no longer with the bank and hasn’t worked there for some time.

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How Instagram photos become targets for ID theft

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Secret Service and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension are announcing the takedown and indictment of 25 members of the largest identity theft and bank fraud conspiracy Minnesota has ever seen. The crime ring is accused of stealing, or attempting to steal, more than $2 million from at least 49 different banks.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger called it “the largest and most sophisticated ID theft organization in Minnesota,” and said there are thousands of victims, including a large number of Instagram users who posted images of their first paychecks on social media, using the hashtag #myfirstpaycheck and #firstpaycheckever.

The sophisticated assembly line

Luger seemed almost impressed by the massive identity and check forging ring they’d taken down. It was just so organized.

“The indictment of the Sienemah Gaye Organization effectively shuts down a pervasive identity theft and bank fraud conspiracy in the Twin Cities,” Luger said in a news release. “This case is representative of a recurring trend – the migration of traditional street criminals to white collar fraud. Law enforcement officials and prosecutors, working in close collaboration through the Minnesota Financial Crimes Task Force, were able to put together the pieces of hundreds of attempted instances of alleged fraud to build today’s conspiracy indictment.”

At the top were three check forgers. Under them, the recruiters, who found the insiders and also found the runners who actually went into the banks and took the risk of cashing fake checks for hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars.

“Today, we have taken down the largest and most sophisticated ID theft organization in Minnesota…we are not done,” Luger said addressing the media on Tuesday.

The bank tellers

The list of 28 indictments includes many aliases and a couple key insiders. The Hassim sisters recruited because they both worked at banks; one a branch manager of a TCF in Crystal, the other was a teller at Central Bank in Coon Rapids. Not only could they allegedly give routing numbers to the forgers, but they could watch balances and tip them off on good days to strike. The ring also recruited a door-to-door meat salesman

“[…] and people who paid by check didn’t know that he would then take their checks and give them to the Sienemah Gaye organization to manufacture phony checks,” Luger added.

The Instagram victims

Luger said there are thousands of victims, including a large number of Instagram users who posted selfies with their first paychecks on social media, using the hashtag #myfirstpaycheck and #firstpaycheckever –oversharing, and under-thinking. When posting information online, it is the same thing as handing your checking account over to a stranger

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