Archive for February, 2015

Identity theft spreads to tax refunds: Cybercriminals file with others’ ID – Post

Saturday, February 28th, 2015

Posted: Friday, February 27, 2015 7:10 pm

Identity theft spreads to tax refunds: Cybercriminals file with others’ ID

Joe Taschler, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (TNS)

Post-Bulletin Company, LLC

MILWAUKEE — April 15 is still a ways away, but a growing number of Americans may be surprised to learn that someone has already filed their tax returns for them — and also made off with their tax refunds.

Taxpayers as well as state and federal tax collection agencies are facing the problem with alarming frequency.

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      Friday, February 27, 2015 7:10 pm.

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      City of Eunice experiences identity theft

      Saturday, February 28th, 2015

      A 2014 state audit revealed that someone stole money from the city of Eunice about 5 months ago.

      Identity theft is an ongoing problem that can happen to businesses and governments, not only people. Louisiana’s state legislative auditor, Daryl Purpera revealed the city of Eunice was a victim of check fraud of over $5,000.

      “Someone got a hold to one of the checks,” said Ginny Moody, Eunice City Clerk. “Got the information off of it, made up a phony check with our banking information, and used it in another state.”

      Moody says multiple checks were written over the span of 5 months in California. There were all used at different locations, but in the same geographic area.

      “No connection with anybody the City of Eunice does business with, or employees,” said Moody.

      She added once the city realized what happened, they immediately contacted police, and even reached out to the Secret Service.

      “The amount missing wasn’t nearly enough for them to get involved,” said Moody. “But they were very helpful and pointed us in the right direction. They told us that we were not the first city, government, municipality that this has happened to.”

      Moody says the suspect was somewhat sophisticated, as they stayed under the radar when it came to the amounts the checks were written for, putting the city in a tough spot.

      “We won’t be able to get it back,” said Moody. “Because of the time lapse between the time that it happened, and the time it was reported .””

      Because of the incident, the City of Eunice has totally revamped the way it does payroll.

      “We are online,” said Moody.”Our treasurer on a weekly basis goes in and checks the accounts for anything that might raise suspicion.””

      City leaders found out about the theft in August of 2014.


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      Yikes! Florida is No. 1 in the sun on fraud, ID theft

      Saturday, February 28th, 2015

      money cuffsFlorida’s got it all: Sun. Sand. Identity theft on a massive scale that puts the rest of the country in the shade.

      Florida leads the nation in both fraud and identify theft complaints per resident, the Federal Trade Commission says today.

      The metro area including Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach tops the country with  316.2 ID theft complaints per 100,000 people, leaving No. 2 Seattle (207) and No. 3. St. Louis (204.4) far behind.

      Out of more than 2.5 million complaints, the Sunshine State hogged the most per capita.

      “Florida was the top source of complaints per capita both for identity theft, and fraud and other complaints,” an agency statement notes.

      Identity theft is the nation’s No. 1 complaint with 332,646 gripes, or 13 percent, followed by debt collection with 280,998 or 11 percent.

      No. 3? Impostor scams. That’s when con artists impersonate government officials or others.

      Already the IRS has recommended Floridians get a special ID code to help thwart fraud on their tax returns.


      Victim of identity theft? New website can help

      Saturday, February 28th, 2015

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      Identity theft tops list of consumer complaints

      Saturday, February 28th, 2015

      consumer complaints

      Identity theft was once again the number one complaint from Americans this year, according the Federal Trade Commission’s annual tally.

      There’s no doubt it’s a scary situation when it happens. If a criminal gets his hands on some personal information, it can wreak havoc on your life. You might find mysterious charges on your credit card. Or a thief could file a tax return in your name, getting a bogus refund before you even know it.

      None of this is a surprise. Massive data breaches that could lead to identity theft keep coming and, most recently, hackers hit insurance giant Anthem, stealing information on tens of millions of customers.

      Related: Debt collection nightmares

      But while identity theft is a huge issue, there’s a growing threat from a different kind of scam: fraudsters pretending to be someone they’re not as a way to get money from you.

      While con artists sometimes impersonate a friend or family member asking for money, more complaints are about fraudsters claiming to be a government official, like an IRS agent.

      Last year, the FTC got nearly 160,000 such complaints, or 100,000 more than in 2013.

      The bad guys may call to say taxes are owed, getting the unknowing consumer to send them money.

      The con may know the last four digits of your Social Security number and threaten arrest if you don’t pay up, but consumers should be suspicious if this ever happens.

      If you do in fact owe taxes, the IRS will first notify you via snail mail. And it won’t ask you to wire money or pay with a debit card.

      Rounding out the top five complaints of 2014 were problems with debt collectors, phone and cable companies, and banks.

      Related: Hackers are stealing your tax refund

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      Protect Yourself From Tax Identity Theft

      Saturday, February 28th, 2015

      Robert Scott Jack took precautions most people never dream of to prevent tax identity theft.

      Mr. Jack, a retired federal cybersecurity expert in Alexandria, Va., who now works as a consultant, shunned online tax-preparation programs that store data on the Internet. He researched the security features of different software programs and opted for a packaged—not downloaded—product. He checked the package for signs of tampering before…

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      Summit County authorities indict 4 in identity theft ring

      Friday, February 27th, 2015

      MACEDONIA, Ohio – Four men, accused in a complex identity theft ring, are named as defendants in an indictment announced on Thursday by Macedonia police.

      The 84-count indictment lists various counts against Ming Chun Shi, Hue Dong Dong, Wen Fei Shi and Yu Liu, including forgery, identity theft and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

      The corrupt activity charge is the most serious count, a felony of the second degree.

      “It’s really kind of reserved for organized criminal activity, and under Ohio law, this qualified to have them indicted under that because they did go to so many places. They did commit this crime over and over again,” said Macedonia Lt. Vince Yakopovich.

      Detectives from Macedonia, Akron, Medina, Hudson and Montville Township said at least 65 people were victimized, many of them from Northeast Ohio.

      The suspects posted $10,000 bonds after their arrests in December, but will now be ordered to turn themselves in to face the new charges in Summit County Common Pleas Court.

      Detectives explained the crooks got a hold of blank cards and then embossed stolen credit card numbers on them.

      Stolen identity information was also “burned” into the magnetic strips of the cards.

      Police seized more than $12,000 in gift cards, along with thousands in cash, after the men were arrested outside of a store In Macedonia.

      Ting Wu, 40, of Hudson, said one of the men was captured on a surveillance camera at a Macy’s in Youngstown buying a $500 gift card with one of the fake cards.

      “I’m just curious. How did they get my information?” Wu said. “I want them to be put in jail.”

      The case broke wide open last December after police said the suspects stole the credit card information of a Montville Township Police lieutenant.

      Lt. Matt Neil got word from his credit card company that his account had been compromised, so he did what he’s trained to do.

      “I opened up a criminal investigation,” Neil said. He got surveillance images of the suspects, posted them on social media, and got an immediate response.

      The next day, the suspects were arrested after police received a tip that they were at an Office Max in Macedonia.

      The suspects are believed to be from New York and Neil thinks they are part of a larger criminal enterprise. Police believe  the same group used the stolen credit card information at other stores in Chagrin Falls, Rocky River, Northfield Center, Stow, Copley, Kent, Bainbridge, Streetsboro, Brunswick, Cleveland and Akron.

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      Mother-daughter duo accused of running Chino Hills ID theft scam

      Friday, February 27th, 2015

      CHINO HILLS Detectives investigation into a stolen credit card case has led to the arrest of a mother-daughter duo in connection to a sophisticated identity theft ring out of Orange County.

      Kristina Anh Giusti, 44 of Garden Grove; her daughter, Kelcie Anh Thy Giusti Tang, 23, of Santa Ana, and a third woman, Terry Tan Mihn Nguyen, 30, also of Garden Grove were arrested Tuesday, according to San Bernardino County sheriff’s Chino Hills officials.

      Deputies were investigating an identify theft case where someone had $800 stolen from their credit card. Detectives learned the victim’s card was used at several retail and restaurant establishments in and around Garden Grove. Authorities eventually linked Giusti with the fraudulent usage of the cards.

      On Tuesday, Chino Hills station detective served two search warrants at Giusti’s home in the 12100 block of College Avenue in Garden Grove. Sheriff’s investigators allegedly recovered more than a thousand forged or altered credit cards issued in Giusti’s name, as well as other names. The also seized six laptops, two tablets, an embossing machine, a tip card machine usually used for forging credit cards, a card encoder, several boxes of white stock credit cards, a money counter, $11,000 in cash and several “how-to’s” of fraud documents.

      Nguyen was at Giusti’s house during the serve of the search warrant and was reportedly linked to the identity theft ring.

      Tang,used fraudulent cards given to her by her mother.

      Nguyen, Giusti and Tang were arrested on suspicion of identity theft and booked at the West Valley Detention Center. The investigation is ongoing.

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      Fed grand jury indicts Youngstown man on identity theft

      Friday, February 27th, 2015

      CLEVELAND — A federal grand jury has returned a two-count indictment charging Ricardo Garcia-Baltazar, aka Richard Molina, 37, of Youngstown, with representing himself as a U.S. citizen, when he is not, and with aggravated identity theft, the U.S. Attorney said today.

      The first count alleges that on or about Jan. 17, 2013, Garcia-Baltazar, a citizen of Mexico and an alien in the United States, falsely represented himself to be a U.S. citizen.

      The second count alleges that between Jan. 17 and March 8, 2013, Garcia-Baltazar transferred, possessed and used, without lawful authority, identification of another person, knowing that the identification belonged to another person.

      The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations.

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      St. Louis Guitarist Olufunsho Adeshina Charged in $200000 Identity Theft Tax …

      Friday, February 27th, 2015

      STL-MUS-20150225-FUNSHOW-WEEKENDATMIAMICOVER.jpgArtwork from Olufunsho Adeshina’s “Weekend in Miami”St. Louis guitarist Olufunsho Adeshina. St. Louis-based and Nigeria-born smooth jazz guitarist Olufunsho Adeshina has been charged in a stolen-identity tax-fraud scheme. According to a press release from the DOJ, Adeshina allegedly fraudulently acquired close to $200,000 from the United States Treasury and funneled it into more than twenty bank accounts under his control since the start of 2015.

      IRS criminal investigators claim that tax refunds owed to numerous individuals were deposited at multiple St. Louis-area banking institutions into accounts Adeshina holds. Some of these banks, finding the deposits suspicious, froze the funds and contacted law enforcement officials.

      Tax authorities have since confirmed that at least one of these refunds was acquired through a fraudulent and false tax return, prepared in the name of a taxpayer identified only as “R.F.” The offense on the criminal complaint is listed as “Theft/Embezzlement of Public Funds.” The affidavit identifies this scheme as one of Stolen Identity Refund Fraud, or SIRF for short.

      From the affidavit:

      SIRF cases have become prevalent over the last five years. Typically, identifiers of taxpayers are stolen from various sources including public records, health care records and otherwise and used to prepare false tax returns calling for a refund. The identity thief and often others working with him direct these refunds to a physical address or to a financial account they control. Before the identity theft victim is able to file his or her taxes, a refund is paid out to the benefit of the identity thief.

      Adeshina is a local guitarist who was just awarded a Bronze Medal in the smooth jazz/rhythm and blues category of the Global Music Awards in December for his performance of “Weekend in Miami.” According to his LinkedIn profile, the 29-year-old Lagos, Nigeria, native studied at Nelly’s Extreme Institute at Vatterott College in St. Louis from 2012 to 2014, earning an associate’s degree in audio producing, engineering and management.

      According to the DOJ’s press release, when authorities attempted to get in touch with Adeshina, they were led to believe he had recently left the St. Louis area. His SoundCloud account has seen activity as recently as Wednesday morning, when he uploaded a playlist of his own songs entitled “Smooth Jazz.”

      The DOJ asks that anyone with knowledge as to his whereabouts contact the St. Louis Office of IRS Criminal Investigation at 314-612-4097.

      Adeshina could not be reached for comment. See the criminal complaint and affidavit below:

      Crim Complaint

      Adeshina Complaint Affidavit


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