Archive for February, 2015

Operator Of Defunct ‘Revenge Porn’ Site Pleads Guilty To Hacking, ID Theft

Friday, February 27th, 2015

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The operator of a defunct “revenge porn” website that posted stolen nude photos has pleaded guilty to federal charges in Los Angeles.

Hunter Moore of Woodland, California entered the pleas Wednesday to computer hacking and identity theft. He’s facing two to seven years in federal prison.

The 28-year-old was once dubbed the “most hated man on the Internet” for posting explicit photos and information about the people portrayed in them on his website,

Authorities say many images were posted by jilted lovers to get even with former partners.

Prosecutors say Moore also hired someone to hack hundreds of email accounts and steal photos.

Twenty-six-year-old Charles Evans of Studio City faces trial next month on federal charges of hacking, ID theft and conspiracy.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Mother-Daughter Duo Nabbed In OC Identity Theft Ring

Friday, February 27th, 2015

CHINO HILLS ( — Detectives announced the arrest of a mother-daughter duo Thursday accused of running a sophisticated identity theft ring out of Orange County.

According to the Chino Hills Police Department, a resident recently reported fraudulent charges on their credit card worth nearly $800.

A preliminary investigation revealed the victim’s card had been used at several retail stores and restaurants in and around the area of Garden Grove.

Police explained evidence revealed the mother, Kristina Anh Giusti, 44, of Garden Grove, using the fraudulent cards at various locations.

On Tuesday, officers conducted two search warrants at Giusti’s home, located in the 12100 block of College Avenue.

Authorities said more than 1,000 forged and altered credit cards issued in the suspect’s name, six laptops, two tablets, an embossing machine, and a tip card machine used for forging credit cards was recovered.

Detectives also found a card encoder, several boxes of white stock credit cards, a money counter, $11,000 in U.S. currency, and several documents outlining how to commit fraud.

According to police, Terry Tan Mihn Nguyen, 30, of Garden Grove, was at the house while the search warrant was being conducted, and was subsequently found to be involved in the identity theft ring.

Kelcie Anh Thy Giusti Tang, 23, of Santa Ana, allegedly used fraudulent credit cards given to her by the mother.

All three suspects are being held at the West Valley Detention Center on charges for identity theft, possession of four or more credit card numbers, possession of personal information of more than 10 victims, forging access cards, unlawful acquisition of access cards, use of a stolen access card, possession of equipment to forge access cards, possession of card encoder, and possession of controlled substance for sale.

The investigation is ongoing.

Anyone who believes they may be a victim of this crime is urged to contact the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department at (909) 364-2000.

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Insider: TurboTax not doing enough to guard against ID theft

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

LYNDEN, Wash. — When Lisa Letchworth logged into her TurboTax account to file her 2014 federal taxes, she got a big and unwelcome surprise: Someone had already filed a return in her name using her TurboTax login and password.

“I knew right away there was a big problem,” said the human resources director for a Lynden construction firm. 

She says her password was unique only to her TurboTax account, which she’s had for several years.

She soon realized the fraudster had transferred all of her personal information from her 2013 return to her 2014 return. He or she then ajusted the income levels to generate a $5,000 refund.  That was her first clue she had been a victim of identity fraud.

Her second clue was where the refund was going. The $5,000 refund, which was more than she would have expected, was not sent as a direct deposit into her checking account, which she had done in year’s past, but to a number that represented a prepaid cash card, the kind you can buy in any grocery store that can be reloaded and cashed out repeatedly.

“I know my routing number and account number by heart and this is not even in the ball park,” Letchworth said.  

She contacted Intuit, the parent company of TurboTax, and told them about the fraud, saying her login and password were unique only to her TurboTax account.  She says a customer service representative pointed her to an online response that many others have received.

“They said you must have clicked on a phishing site or you must not have secured your data, but this isn’t our responsibility,” Letchworth. 

She felt Intuit didn’t believe here.

“There is a seal on TurboTax that says ‘100-percent guaranteed accuracy,’ so what does that mean?” she said.

But an insider that claims to have direct knowledge of the internet security protocols Intuit employs said the company is not being truthful with its customers.

“They are putting the ability to file taxes ahead of knowing their customer,” said the insider, who did not want to be identified because he says it could harm his relationship with other clients. 

The insider has a work history of testing corporate internet security measures, penetrating websites before hackers can find the vulnerabilities.  Intuit acknowledge to KOMO News the company knows who he is.

“They (Intuit) do no verification that you really are Sally Smith,” said the insider.  “As soon as Sally Smith signs up for an account and starts sending the e-files for a hundred different people that have nothing to do with her, they do nothing to turn off Sally Smith’s account.”

He says Intuit has no financial interest in seeking out fraudulent accounts or accounts that have been compromised by identity theft, because that will cut down on the number of e-filings, which is a boasting point for any tax preparation software company.

“They don’t do verification in the enrollment process,” said the insider. “And because they don’t verify, it’s difficult for them to enable some sort of secondary challenge.” 

He believe hackers gained TurboTax login information not by hacking Intuit servers, but by standard phishing and social engineering methods. But he says Intuit could do more to stop the fraud from being passed on to taxpayers, who end up paying billions of dollars to thieves filing fraudulent returns.

“They historically have not had a system to disable these accounts,” said the insider. “So an account that is known to be 100-percent fraud could seemingly persist forever and continue year after year to be used to file fraudulent e-files.”

This week Intuit responded to the insider’s claims and an SEC filing made by an Intuit employee, saying in a statement,  “Any suggestion that Intuit or any of its leaders made decisions to sacrifice customer security for financial gain is untrue and without merit.”

The lengthy statement discounts many of the claims made by the two insiders, saying “These allegations are without merit and are based on these individuals’ misunderstanding of the facts and their mischaracterization of our business”.

As for Letchworth, she’s had to file a new tax return the old fashion way, via snail mail. The IRS has told her she should expect her fraudulent claim to be resolved in six to ten months. That’s the least of her worries.

“Now that they’ve stolen the government’s money, they could now steal ours,” she said. “It’s doesn’t get any more personal than an income tax return. The only thing that could be worse is if our medical records were attached to it.”

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Identity theft victims share common story

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Highway Patrol wrapped up an investigation involving a Kansas City car dealership and identity theft.

Last month, investigators submitted information that led to Platte County Prosecutors charging Tiffany Bennett with four counts of felony forgery .

However, investigators couldn’t gather enough evidence against the other suspect to lead to charges.

Court documents show several victims had thousands of dollars taken out in their name. Being a victim of identity theft wasn’t the only thing the two had in common.

One woman is a nursing student who works a full time job, and her wedding is next week, but that’s not all she’s been dealing with.

“We’re thinking about moving, and my credit is really bad because of all of these loans that are on my credit,” said one victim.

The woman asked us not to reveal her name to protect her identity.

An identity that Missouri Highway Patrol investigators say a stranger used several times.

“There was about 30 or so temporary licenses in my name. They found like loans to Sun Loan Security Finance,” the woman said. 

Last month, Platte County Prosecutors charged Bennett with forgery after they say she created those fake IDs and checks.

In the probable cause statement, Bennett admits to investigators she got the identities from credit applications submitted at Gary Crossley Ford.

A second victim, Vicky Wayman, also found out someone used her personal information to make fake checks.

The one thing the two victims had in common— they filled out applications at the same car dealership.

Wayman described, “It was all my personal information. Address, driver’s license, social security number, everything that you could possibly put down I had to put down.”

Wayman said she worked at Crossley for a short period of time.

Investigators said the dealership cooperated with the investigation.

However, they couldn’t gather enough evidence involving an employee at the dealership to send the case to the Prosecutor’s office.

That’s not something these two victims wanted to hear.

“Where do they believe she was getting all of this information from? She wasn’t going in there and getting it herself. It takes more than just one person to do what they’ve done,” said Wayman.

Shannon Halligan can be reached at .

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As Health Data Goes Electronic, Medical ID Theft Increases

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Medical identity theft jumped 22 percent last year as more U.S. health data becomes electronic and easier for cyber criminals to steal from doctors’ offices, hospitals and insurers.

Incidents of medical identity theft in 2014 saw almost 500,000 people fall victim to sham companies committing insurance fraud, or impostors seeking free medical care, according to a report released this week by the Ponemon Institute, a Traverse City, Michigan-based data-privacy research firm.

Resolving such incidents of fraud cost victims an average of $13,500 in expenses, such as paying medical bills racked up in their name or legal fees, the report found. In 19 percent of cases, the victims said erroneous information added to their medical records by an impostor, like a positive drug test, cost them career opportunities.

The numbers are expected to continue rising this year as healthcare hacking persists, said Ann Patterson, a senior vice president for the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance, which sponsored the report. Already this year, as many as 80 million customers of health insurer Anthem Inc. had their personal data stolen. Medical data has become a popular target for criminals as it can sell for more than 10 times as much as financial data on the black market, security analysts say.

“I feel like criminals are going to increasingly target the healthcare sector where there is just data left and right for them,” said Patterson. “I don’t know for sure that that increase will correlate to a rise in medical identity fraud, but it does seem to make sense.”

Electronic Files

Patterson said her group started seeing a big jump in medical identity theft cases after 2012 as electronic medical records became more common.

In about half of medical identity theft cases, a person’s information is bought for around $50 to $100 by someone without insurance to get medical care or medications, Patterson said. The impostor shows up at a hospital or doctor’s office pretending to be the victim. They supply the stolen date of birth, address and insurance ID or social security number, which in most cases is enough information to get treated.

The bill for the care is sent to the insurer, and the victim is left on the hook for any co-payments, deductibles or services not covered. The care the impostor received can also show up in the victim’s medical records.

In the other half of cases, criminals set up a fraudulent company and bill the insurer for services never provided to the person who’s identity they stole. For example, criminals will buy the identities of seniors in a certain geography who have difficulty walking and bill Medicare in their name for motorize scooters that were never sold to them, Patterson said.

200 Hours

Unlike with financial-data theft, where the credit card company or bank picks up the tab and a new card is issued, medical identity theft can be much more costly and time consuming. It took an average of 200 hours to resolve a case, the study found. Health-care providers are also less savvy at fighting cyber criminals than retailers or banks since they haven’t been a target for as long.

“Healthcare fraud can get very intricate and very sophisticated, they are smarter and one-step ahead of everyone else, it seems,” said Patterson. “The industry is aware of cyber threats and vulnerabilities but it is a little bit newer to them compared to retail or financial services.”


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Report: medical identity theft costs victims $13500 to resolve

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

PhotoThis week, the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance released its Fifth Annual Study on Medical Identity Theft, which looks at the extent and impact of medical identity theft on people in the United States. The report says that in 2014, there were more than 2 million victims of medical identity theft in the United States, almost 500,000 more than in 2013.

What’s worse is that, compared to other forms of identity theft, victims of medical identity theft are more likely to suffer personal financial consequences as a result.

Victims of credit card or similar forms of financial fraud are not expected to pay out of pocket to resolve the problem – but victims of medical identity theft often have to.

The report says that more than half (65%) of medical identity theft victims paid more than $13,000 to fix it, including payments to legal counsel, healthcare or health insurance providers, and identity-protection services. That’s in addition to the average of 200 hours of time the typical victim had to spend on the issue.

Victims of medical identity theft are seldom informed of this by their insurer, and more than half of respondents said that even if they did discover a fraudulent or incorrect bills charged to their medical insurance benefits, they would not even know how to report this.

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Medical ID Theft Increased by More Than 20% in FY 2014, Study Finds

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Twenty percent more medical identity theft cases occurred in fiscal year 2014, compared with the previous year, according to a recent study by the Ponemon Institute, Clinical Innovation Technology reports.

Details of Study

For the annual study, researchers surveyed about 49,000 U.S. adults (Walsh, Clinical Innovation Technology, 2/23).

The study — which aims to determine the effects and pervasiveness of identity theft in the U.S. — was sponsored by the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance, with support from Experian Data Breach Resolution, Identity Finder LLC, ID Experts and Kaiser Permanente (Ponemon Institute study, February 2015).


According to FierceHealthIT, the researchers found that consumers consider data theft to be complicated, costly and time-consuming. Specifically:

  • 80% of survey respondents said being reimbursed for “money spent to prevent future damages” was the most important step following identity theft;
  • 79% said they felt it was important for providers to ensure the privacy of their records;
  • 68% said they did not have confidence in their providers’ security measures; and
  • 35% of those whose information had been compromised in the past said the thief had used their benefits, causing a valid claim to be denied.

When asked how they would respond to record theft or loss:

  • 48% said they would find another provider; and
  • 52% said they did not know how they would respond.

Meanwhile, researchers found that 35% were “not familiar” with HIPAA and privacy standards related to data security.

To reduce medical identity theft risk, the study authors said that, “health care providers and insurance providers should help consumers gain more control over their medical records” (Dvorak, FierceHealthIT, 2/23).

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A Dangerous Form of Identity Theft Is Growing Fast

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

An estimated 2.32 million American adults were victims of medical identity theft as of 2014, up from the 1.84 million estimated in 2013, according to the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance. That’s a nearly 22% jump in this specific kind of fraud.

This month, MIFA released its fifth edition of this annual study, conducted by the Ponemon Institute, which highlights the growing threat of medical identity theft. The group defines medical identity theft as someone using a person’s name and other identifying information to fraudulently obtain medical services, receive prescription drugs or pay for medical care.

It’s unclear if the crime is occurring more often or people are just reporting it more frequently — in all likelihood, it’s a combination — but regardless of what triggered this 22% increase in medical identity theft from 2013 to 2014, it’s certainly a problem.

Even though 2.32 million adults account for only about 1% of the U.S. adult population, the frequency of medical identity theft is a concerning issue, as is the cost of recovering from it. Of the victims surveyed for MIFA’s report, 65% said they paid an average of $13,500 to resolve their case of medical identity theft. On top of that financial burden, victims said it took an average of 200 hours to resolve the crime — that is, if they got to the point where a thief could no longer use their information, and only 10% of respondents said they reached a “completely satisfactory conclusion of the incident.”

Preventing medical identity theft can be difficult. Take the example of the recent data breach of Anthem, one of the nation’s largest health insurers. Current and former members’ Social Security numbers were stolen in a cyberattack. There’s nothing the victims could have done to avoid getting caught up in this — it was a wrong-place, wrong-time thing — but they have to deal with the fallout, which may include someone using their identity to receive medical services.

At the same time, 25% of the victims in MIFA’s study said they had allowed a friend or family member to use their identity to procure medical care. Nearly the same share (24%) of victims said a family member took their information and used it to get medical services without their permission. These figures suggest it’s crucial for consumers to keep their credentials — IDs, insurance information, etc. — secure and out of others’ reach, even those you trust.

If you’re worried about medical identity theft, you can purchase a credit monitoring product to keep a close eye on how your data is being used. You can also use free tools to help you spot medical identity theft quickly. If you get stuck with an unpaid hospital bill, it will appear on your credit reports, so checking them regularly can be helpful. You can get your free annual credit reports at, and you can get a free credit report summary every month on

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Image: iStock

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ID Theft Suspect Arrested

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

A handshake is a signal that a developmentally disabled man -- who had his identity stolen -- can breathe easier.

A handshake is a signal that a developmentally disabled man — who had his identity stolen — can breathe easier.

Two months ago, Fact Finders showed you video of an identity thief — using his name — going on a shopping spree. Thanks to that report, a suspect is behind bars.

An unidentified identity thief went on a two store shopping spree buying $3,000 in merchandise after opening credit lines with Eric’s stolen Social Security number. Eric says, “It makes me mad that he took advantage of a person that has disabilities.”

Sheriff’s detective Matt Barrall tells Eric and his mom that a suspect is in custody. Detective Barrall says, “I was able to find the suspect and there is a mug shot of the guy who stole your identity. I informed the suspect that you had a disability and he seemed shocked.”

Our Fact Finders investigation in December led to a female with the suspect who knew him as JJ. Other agencies put a name with the initials and detective Barrall found Jeremy Jakub just starting a prison sentence for another crime.

The detective said, ”He ended up copping to the whole thing. He explained how it happened. I believe your mail was stolen.”

For Eric an arrest is about more than justice. He says, ”Thank you for pursuing this, it’s a weight off my shoulders.”

Hopefully no more worries about credit damage. But because of his developmental disability, Eric gets a lot of mail from the Social Security administration. Letters that are a key to his identity.

When it comes to protecting Social Security information Eric now knows he can’t just mail it in. He says, ”I’ll make sure it comes a different way.”

And the suspect accused of stealing Eric’s identity will be doing his future shopping at a prison commissary for some time to come.

Jeremy Jakub, 28, faces a felony charge of identity theft through criminal impersonation. The female accomplice seen on store video has not been charged because there’s no proof she used stolen identification to make a purchase.

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St. Louis woman gets 3 years for fraud, identity theft

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015



EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill.– A former home health care personal nursing assistant from St. Louis has been ordered to spend three years in federal prison for defrauding an 82-year-old patient.

Federal prosecutors say 37-year-old Melissa Charlton pleaded guilty last May in East St. Louis, Illinois, to charges of access device fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Authorities say that Charlton got access to the credit cards and checking account of the victim from O’Fallon, Illinois, and misused them.

Prosecutors say that after the victim discovered the fraudulent purchases, Charlton stole the replacement credit cards and used the victim’s Social Security number and birthdate to activate them and to get an additional credit card accunt.

Charlton also was ordered to pay nearly $5,300 in restitution.

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