Archive for March, 2015

East Texas, DFW identity theft ring busted in Henderson County

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

A two month long investigation into an identity theft and forgery ring resulted in the arrest of three people Thursday in eastern Henderson County.

On February 10, 2015, an Athens resident reported to the Athens Police Department that their checking account had been compromised and someone had made several transactions without their consent. One of the transactions had taken place in Terrell, Texas. The initial report was soon followed by two other residents who were victims of similar crimes.

Athens Police Detective Corporal James Bonnette began investigating, trying to identify the suspect and determining the point of compromise. Soon thereafter, similar crimes were reported in surrounding jurisdictions including Tyler, Canton, Chandler, and the DFW
area.

During the commission of the original Terrell offense, video surveillance captured images of the suspect. Those images were distributed to area news outlets in hopes of identifying the suspect.

As the investigation continued, Bonnette, with the assistance of the Arlington Police Department, was able to identify the suspect in the video surveillance as Brandon Holloway, 27, of Arlington. Based on that information, an arrest warrant was obtained for Holloway for the offense of Fraudulent Use/Possession of Identifying information.

On Thursday, March 26, 2015, Bonnette received information that Holloway was at a residence on County Road 3618. The Athens Police Department requested assistance from the Henderson County Sheriff’s Department in locating and arresting Holloway.

At approximately 11 AM, several officers from the police and sheriff departments traveled to the location where they found Holloway at a residence on the property. Holloway was taken into custody based on the warrant, as well as a parole warrant for a previous ID theft conviction. 

The property resident, Brandon L. Lee, 27, of Brownsboro, was also located at the residence and arrested for a weapons-related warrant from Ohio. Brandon Holloway’s wife, Steffanie L. Holloway, 37, of Arlington, was located in an outbuilding and was arrested for a parole warrant stemming from a previous arson conviction.

While at the scene of the arrests officers observed several items that appeared to be evidence of the identity theft ring that was being operated by Brandon Holloway. As officers secured the location, Bonnette prepared and presented an affidavit for a search warrant to Henderson County Court at Law Judge Scott Williams.

Upon executing the warrant, officers located numerous items of evidence and contraband including blank check stock, credit cards in victim’s names, records of personal identifying information of victims and four computers. Additionally, officers also recovered two stolen vehicles, both of which were rental cars that had been rented in the names of ID theft victims in the DFW area, a 4-wheeler ATV that had been stolen from Henderson County, and two firearms.

All three subjects were booked into the Henderson County Detention Center. During the booking process, a quantity of methamphetamine, between 1 gram and 4 grams, was found in  Brandon Holloway’s possession. Additional charges are also
expected to be filed against Brandon Holloway in relation to the stolen vehicles, weapons, additional identity theft evidence
discovered, as well as the separate cases from several law enforcement agencies across east Texas and the DFW metroplex.

Athens Police Chief Buddy Hill praised the work of Bonnette and the other officers that assisted with the investigation and arrest of these three subjects. “James has spent a lot of time and hard work on this case” said Hill.

“When it was first reported, we had next to nothing to go on. It was a collaborative effort that identified Holloway and it was a collaborative effort that ended in his arrest.”

Bonnette was assisted in the arrests and search of the property by Athens Police Department Assistant Chief Rodney Williams and
Detectives Chris Saylors and Marshall Passons, as well as Sheriff Ray Nutt, Chief Deputy Botie Hillhouse, Captain Bryan
Tower, Investigators Kay Langford, Wick Gabbard, Brad Gray, Robert Powers, Michael Shelley and Cayce Hampton, along with
Deputies Jim Langford, Ray Yockey and Josh Rickman from the Henderson County Sheriff’s Department.

Article source: http://www.ketknbc.com/news/crimewatch/east-texas-dfw-identity-theft-ring-busted-in-hende

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People file taxes to learn they are victims of identity theft

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

DICKSON, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tax season is stressful enough. Now imagine filing your taxes and the IRS tells you that you’ve already filed.

It’s happening to victims all across Middle Tennessee. Metro Nashville has multiple cases and one detective in Dickson has three victims of identity theft affecting their tax returns.

Det. Josh Ethridge told News 2 the victims filed their taxes and learned from the IRS someone had already done it with their identities.

“Technology at its worst. It’s been absolutely excruciating for them,” Ethridge told News 2.

Mike Roney is one of those victims. He told News 2 it was puzzling and made him angry.

“Didn’t know what to feel,” he said. “Nothing like this has ever happened to me before, although the IRS was very helpful once I was able to get a person on the phone.”

Roney said there is little he could have done to protect himself.

“Really nothing I could have been done different. It has not been determined where my information was breached,” he explained. “It’s suspected it’s through medical records.”

Roney told News 2 it takes a long time and a lot of effort to fight this type of fraud, but working with the IRS and Dickson police, he was able to get his refund.

Click here to learn some identity protection tips from the IRS.

Article source: http://wkrn.com/2015/03/30/people-file-taxes-to-learn-they-are-victims-of-identity-theft/

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Daytona Beach couple charged with identity theft, money laundering – Daytona Beach News

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Charles Okafor, 27, was arrested in Seminole County on March 6 on multiple fraud and grand theft charges and got out of the Polk Correctional Facility in Sanford on March 25 on $30,000 bail.

Okafor’s freedom was short-lived as Daytona Beach police, who were investigating additional cases of fraud and money laundering against Okafor, found him the next day, Thursday, in a room at the Residence Inn at 3209 S. Atlantic Ave. in Daytona Beach Shores. Okafor was charged with communications fraud, fraudulent use of a victim/certain specified individual, seven counts of fraudulent use of personal identification information and five counts of conspiracy money laundering transactions. Okafor was being held Monday in the Volusia County Branch Jail on $250,000 bail.

Police said that while in the Seminole County jail, Okafor called his wife, Judienne Okafor, 31, on March 10 and directed her to destroy evidence. In the call Okafor tells his wife to search the pockets of his jacket he had in a closet, a nightstand where he kept a brown envelope and a cabinet above the stove in the kitchen where he had papers. Okafor told his wife to “put them inside the toilet and flush.” On March 11, Daytona Beach police executed a search warrant at Okafor’s apartment at 244 Integra Shores Drive and found Judienne Okafor there. In the apartment, police found papers being burned in a bathroom sink. Wet papers had been torn up in the kitchen sink, reports said.

Judienne Okafor said the papers were the ones her husband ordered her to destroy. She was arrested and charged with communications fraud, tampering with physical evidence and attempting to use another person’s identification without consent. She is free on $4,500 bail.

Investigators put together all the pieces of paper they found and discovered that it was a list of names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and the driver’s licenses of at least eight people from Ohio, New York, Mississippi and Texas.

Two names — James Giannone and Christopher Doyle — were documented as identity theft victims. Charles Okafor opened credit accounts in Giannone’s name at the Kohl’s in Port Orange and bought gift cards and opened a $4,000 credit line at Home Depot in Orange City, investigators said.

In February, Charles Okafor used Doyle’s information to acquire more than $3,700 in Macy’s gift cards from a Lowe’s in DeLand. He used the cards to buy expensive watches, perfumes and sunglasses from the store at the Volusia Mall, police said.

Charles Okafor is also a suspect in fraud cases that DeLand police are investigating, DeLand police Sgt. Chris Estes said.

Article source: http://www.news-journalonline.com/article/20150330/news/150339947

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Police Ask for Help Identifying an Identity Theft Suspect

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015



Pueblo police are asking for help identifying a woman who reportedly used a false name while making purchases at a local Best Buy and Kohl

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Pueblo police are asking for help identifying a woman who reportedly used a false name while making purchases at a local Best Buy and Kohl’s.

The purchases were made on February 19th at approximately 10 a.m.

Police say she first went to the Best Buy in Pueblo and bought four cell phones. They say she then went over to Kohl’s and made more purchases.

The suspect is described as being in her late 20s or early 30s. She was the passenger in a silver or gray Dodge Charger.

Anyone with information is asked to call Pueblo Crime Stoppers at 542-STOP.

Article source: http://www.kktv.com/home/headlines/Police-Ask-for-Help-Identifying-an-Identity-Theft-Suspect-298012851.html

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IRS identity theft cases expected to increase

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

The Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office said it anticipates the number of identity theft cases involving the IRS to increase as the tax filing deadline approaches.

So far, authorities there said they’re investigating 15 separate cases since Jan. 1, 2015. During the same time period last year, Lancaster County officials said they did not have any similar reports.

While filing taxes, the sheriff’s office said, these victims have found their personal information has already been used to file a tax return. A majority of these victims have not suffered financial loss, but their personal information has been compromised.

Identity theft victims who are residents of Lancaster County but live outside of Lincoln city limits should contact 402-441-6500. You will be asked to fill out an identity theft affidavit and an IRS disclosure authorization so information can be shared with authorities investigating the fraudulent filing.

Deputies will work collaboratively with the IRS in an attempt to identify how your personal information was stolen, the identity of the suspect filing the fraudulent tax return and educate you on ways to monitor your credit reports to prevent future fraud.

Learn more at www.ftc.gov/idtheft.

Article source: http://www.ketv.com/news/irs-identity-theft-cases-expected-to-increase/32086820

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Report: Identity theft and fraud complaints soared in Pennsylvania in 2014

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

SAC

The Save Ardmore Coalition

SAC is a grassroots organization dedicated to the revitalization of Ardmore, Pennsylvania’s business district based on community input, consensus building, sound and comprehensive planning, and the preservation of our architectural heritage.

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Article source: http://www.mainlinemedianews.com/articles/2015/03/30/main_line_times/news/doc551941b989240307465950.txt

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Alleged Identity Theft Victim Stranded in Mexico

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Identity Theft

March 30, 2015 by

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An American who travels frequently to Mexico has been stuck there since the beginning of March because someone reportedly stole his identity, the man’s lawyer said.

Carlos Montoya lives in Los Angeles but went to Mexico for epilepsy treatment, his lawyer said in a March 23 news conference. When border agents took Montoya’s fingerprints as he attempted to cross the border a few weeks ago, a different man’s photo was associated with Montoya’s name, reportedly leading the agents to arrest Montoya.

Montoya’s lawyer, Luis Carrillo, said agents accused his client of being an impostor, but Montoya and his family think he’s the identity theft victim in this situation. Montoya does not have a U.S. passport and said he had previously traveled between the countries using his California ID, Social Security card and birth certificate.

Carrillo said agents arrested and imprisoned Montoya for three days before they allegedly pressured him to sign a document for his release, reports KABC in Los Angeles. Montoya remains stranded in Mexico while trying to work with the U.S. Consulate there to get a passport, KABC reports.

Though it’s unclear what happened in this situation, it is possible identity theft played a role. Identity theft can manifest in several ways, considering how many things are tied to people’s names, birth dates and Social Security numbers. There are many things consumers can do to reduce the negative impact of identity theft, like monitoring their credit and regularly reviewing their financial accounts, but for some things, there’s no way to know about identity theft until after something bad happens.

Regularly review your records for accuracy — you can get a free credit report summary from Credit.com to watch for possible signs of credit fraud, like new accounts you didn’t authorize. Be prepared to act quickly if you discover a likely identity theft incident, so you can try to prevent extensive damage to your identity and finances.

More on Identity Theft:

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Article source: http://blog.credit.com/2015/03/alleged-identity-theft-victim-stranded-in-mexico-112573/

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Identity theft seminar set for March 31

Monday, March 30th, 2015

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Article source: http://www.hometownlife.com/story/news/local/southfield/2015/03/29/identity-theft-seminar-set-march/70527536/

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Report: Identity theft, fraud complaints soar in Pa.

Monday, March 30th, 2015



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The number of identity theft and fraud complaints reported by Americans continues to soar, and Pennsylvania ranks in the top third of U.S. states when it comes to such catalogued criminal activity, according to a recent report from the Federal Trade Commission analyzing 2014 data.

Overall, identity theft, fraud and other related cases filed with the Consumer Sentinel Network — an online database of millions of consumer complaints available only to law enforcement — jumped nearly 19 percent nationwide from 2013, the report indicates.

In Pennsylvania, identity theft reports increased nearly 17 percent in 2014, placing the state 16th among all U.S. states with 81.7 complaints per 100,000 residents (by comparison, Florida, which ranked first, had 186.3 identity theft complaints per 100,000 residents in 2014).

Meanwhile, reports of fraud and similar complaints rose nearly 24 percent in Pennsylvania from a year earlier, putting the state at 18th nationally with 544.7 complaints per 100,000 — Florida, which also placed first in fraud complaints, had 1007.3 complaints per 100,000 residents, statistics show.

Fraud and related incidents cost Pennsylvanians at least $46 million in 2014, according to the FTC, although that figure is likely much higher because only 56 percent of consumers who reported fraud said how much they paid in those incidents.

A deeper look into the numbers at the state level shows that government benefits or benefits fraud (including tax- or wage-related incidents, government benefits applied for or received, and various documents, including driver’s licenses, issued or forged) was far and away the most common type of identity theft reported, accounting for 35 percent of all cases.

That was followed by credit card-related incidents (including both new and existing accounts) at 16 percent and phone/utilities fraud at 13 percent, with banking, loan, employment, medical, insurance, child support and data breach accounting for much of the rest.

Regarding fraud in Pennsylvania, debt collection and impostor scams accounted for 24 percent of incidents, according to the FTC report.

Debt collection fraud is defined by Consumer Sentinel Network as when the debt collector “calls repeatedly or continuously; falsely represents the amount or status of debt; fails to send written notice of debt; falsely threatens suit; uses profane language; fails to identify self as debt collector; and/or violates other provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Equally prevalent impostor scams involve perpetrators “claiming to be friends, family, a romantic interest, companies or government agencies to induce people to send money or divulge personal information,” including “scammers posing as friends or relatives stranded in foreign countries without money; scammers claiming to be working for or affiliated with a government agency; and scammers claiming to be affiliated with a private entity (e.g. a charity or company),” according to Consumer Sentinel Network .

Additional incidents of fraud that plagued Pennsylvanians in 2014 included those related to telephone and mobile services, banks and lenders, prizes/sweepstakes/lotteries, shop-at-home and catalog sales, Internet services and health care, the report shows.

Nationally, persons between the ages of 40 and 59 accounted for 38 percent of all identity theft complaints, while individuals 19 and younger, and 70 and older, reported the least number of identity theft incidents (6 percent for the younger group, 7 percent for the older group).

But when it came to reported fraud, those in the 50-59 age group accounted for 21 percent of all national cases, followed by the 40-49 and 60-69 age brackets (both 18 percent), 30-39 age bracket (17 percent), 20-29 age bracket (14 percent) and the 70-and-older age bracket (10 percent), according to the data. Persons age 19 and under accounted for only 2 percent of reported fraud cases in the U.S. last year.

More than half (54 percent) of frauds and scams reported were conducted by phone, with email the next-most-employed method at 23 percent, the FTC reports. Regular mail and websites accounted for much of the other means of contact.

Nationally, nearly two-thirds of the money paid during reported incidents of fraud was done via prepaid cards or wire transfers; MoneyPak Green Dot prepaid cards and wire transfers from Western Union and MoneyGram were involved in “a significant number of complaints,” the FTC indicates.

The report’s alarming findings have led AARP Pennsylvania, which advocates for residents ages 50 and older, to point out ways residents can protect themselves. “Every two seconds someone’s identity is stolen and a con artist takes over their life,” said AARP Pennsylvania President Jim Palmquist, who referenced the AARP Fraud Watch Network (www.aarp.com/fraudwatchnetwork) as a means for people to protect their identity and avoid frauds and scams.

The group notes that identity theft can be perpetrated by both high- and low-tech means — from email and text phishing software to digging through trash or going into mailboxes to obtain personal and/or financial information — and recommends shredding sensitive documents before disposing of them; regularly monitoring financial accounts for unusual activity; not clicking on links in e-mails from people you don’t know; and being particularly careful about sharing personal information on social media sites such as Facebook.

Regarding phone scams involving debt collections or impostors, AARP cautions people not to give callers personal or financial information; to refuse to discuss any alleged debt until you get a written “validation notice,”; to never wire or otherwise give money to anyone claiming to be from a government agency, including the IRS (real federal agents do not call or e-mail to demand immediate payment); and, if someone calls claiming to be a family member in distress, to check the story with other family members or ask the caller questions that a stranger couldn’t possibly answer.

Similar warnings and tips from numerous police departments in the North Penn/Indian Valley areas, Montgomery County authorities and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office have occurred with greater frequency and urgency over the past couple of years.

Article source: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20150328/report-identity-theft-fraud-complaints-soar-in-pa

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Identity theft, tax fraud on the rise in Iredell

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Posted: Saturday, March 28, 2015 11:23 pm

Identity theft, tax fraud on the rise in Iredell

By Donna Swicegood

Statesville Record Landmark

In the nearly 10 years since the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office formed an economic crime unit, detectives witnessed the caseload grow from a few hundred a year to a more than a few thousand.

And in recent months, the three detectives working fraud cases have been inundated with the newest scheme – tax refund fraud.

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Article source: http://www.statesville.com/news/identity-theft-tax-fraud-on-the-rise-in-iredell/article_fb6ca208-d5c2-11e4-8878-2fec13a6f2cb.html

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