Archive for June, 2015

Indictment returned in UPMC identity theft, tax fraud operation

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Yoandy Perez Llanes is charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, wire fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft.

A federal grand jury in Pittsburgh returned a 21-count indictment on Wednesday, charging a foreign national residing outside the United States with using information acquired in a 2014 data breach to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the U.S. Treasury.

Yoandy Perez Llanes is charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, wire fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft for allegedly filing false federal income tax returns with information stolen in the 2014 University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) breach, a Friday Justice Department release said.

Between January and April 2014, Llanes, along with unnamed conspirators, allegedly filed 932 false tax returns with Turbo Tax using proxy IP addresses and anonymous and encrypted email services that disguised their true identities, the indictment said.

Llanes and the conspirators are said to have requested unlawful tax refunds in the form of Amazon.com gift card redemption codes, which were used to make purchases that were sent to reshippers in Florida who later sent the goods to Venezuela.

The merchandise – hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of electronics equipment such as laptop computers, video game consoles and mobile devices – was sent to various drop locations and was later sold at online auction websites.

“The total amount of refunds claimed for all of the false returns totaled approximately $2,205,925.00,” the indictment said. “Approximately $1,475,593.00 of the total amount claimed was paid by the U.S. Treasury in the form of unlawful tax refunds.”

UPMC suffered a data breach in February that was initially thought to have affected roughly 300 people. A UPMC spokesperson later announced that at least 788 employees were victims of tax fraud as a result of the attack, and as many as 27,000 hospital workers could have personal information at risk. According to the release, attackers compromised a UPMC database and stole information – including names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers – on thousands of UPMC employees.

Article source: http://www.scmagazine.com/grand-jury-indicts-foreign-national-for-using-upmc-breach-info-to-defraud-irs/article/423479/

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10 Utahns charged in alleged identity theft scheme

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY — Ten people face 66 total criminal charges for allegedly stealing people’s identity to commit thousands of dollars in bank fraud.

Federal prosecutors say they stole mail, opened bank accounts to deposit counterfeit and forged checks and took the identifications of victims to create fake documents and counterfeit checks.

The indictment says one woman got the names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, bank account information and credit card numbers from a business she worked at and gave them to others who used them for fraud.

Law enforcement learned of the alleged scheme last July when a bank corporate security officer alerted U.S. postal inspectors that several people were defrauding businesses, individuals, banks and merchants. The indictment lists allegedly fraudulent transactions totaling more than $36,700.

Charged in the indictment are Peata Wilma Schwenke, 30, of West Valley City; Kimmerlee Rae Johnston, 40, of Taylorsville; Lethe V Taisali Peni, 27, of West Valley City; Moses Seu Savea, 29, of Midvale; Angela Mai Schwalger, 37, of Salt Lake City; Lina Tuiso Oga, 25, of West Valley City; Lyric Peniamina Kaula Ete, 26, of West Valley City; Juana Maria Valdez, 28, of West Valley City; Anita Jo Prawitt, 31, of Taylorsville; and Calvin Chad Sharp, 34, of West Jordan.

Johnston is charged in 30 counts and Schwenke in 14. The others face from two to eight counts each.

Article source: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865631647/10-Utahns-charged-in-alleged-identity-theft-scheme.html?pg=all

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Mechanicsburg woman charged with identity theft

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Vidalia Santizo

Vidalia Santizo

SILVER SPRING TOWNSHIP, Pa.–A Mechanicsburg  woman accused of stealing an out-of-state woman’s identity is heading to trial, police said.

Authorities charged 29-year-old Vidalia Santizo with identity theft on June 16.

Officers were contacted by Carmen Rodriguez, who lives out-of-state, who reported her identity was being used by someone working in Silver Spring Township. Investigators learned Santizo was allegedly posing as Rodriguez.

Santizo was arrested and taken to Cumberland County Booking Center for processing. She waived her preliminary hearing on June 22 and remains free after posting $25,000 unsecured bail.

Her formal arraignment is scheduled for September 24.

 

Article source: http://fox43.com/2015/06/30/mechanicsburg-woman-arrested-for-identity-theft-after-living-under-someones-name/

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Alleged identity theft scheme sees 10 Utahns charged

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY — Ten people face 66 total criminal charges for allegedly stealing people’s identity to commit thousands of dollars in bank fraud.

Federal prosecutors say they stole mail, opened bank accounts to deposit counterfeit and forged checks and took the identifications of victims to create fake documents and counterfeit checks.

The indictment says one woman got the names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, bank account information and credit card numbers from a business she worked at and gave them to others who used them for fraud.

Law enforcement learned of the alleged scheme last July when a bank corporate security officer alerted U.S. postal inspectors that several people were defrauding businesses, individuals, banks and merchants. The indictment lists allegedly fraudulent transactions totaling more than $36,700.

Charged in the indictment are Peata Wilma Schwenke, 30, of West Valley City; Kimmerlee Rae Johnston, 40, of Taylorsville; Lethe V Taisali Peni, 27, of West Valley City; Moses Seu Savea, 29, of Midvale; Angela Mai Schwalger, 37, of Salt Lake City; Lina Tuiso Oga, 25, of West Valley City; Lyric Peniamina Kaula Ete, 26, of West Valley City; Juana Maria Valdez, 28, of West Valley City; Anita Jo Prawitt, 31, of Taylorsville; and Calvin Chad Sharp, 34, of West Jordan.

Johnston is charged in 30 counts and Schwenke in 14. The others face from two to eight counts each.

Article source: http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=35291555

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Lawmakers Act to Help Tax ID Theft Victims – NBC 5 Dallas

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

More and more people are becoming victims of one particular form of identity theft.

Tax ID theft is exploding. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission said complaints went up more than 2300 percent last year.

And tax identity theft was the most common type of ID theft crime reported. That has lawmakers sitting up and taking notice. At least one is proposing changes that would help consumers.

Amy Doty is one of the of victims. She knew she was in big trouble before she even filed this year.

“I got a letter addressed to me and a crazy name,” said Doty. “They needed more information. I knew something was wrong and most likely my identity was stolen.”

Doty called her accountant who encouraged her to go in person to see someone at the Internal Revenue Service.

Because of long wait times and too few employees, it took Doty three times to see someone to find out what to do. The phone was no better. Once she was able to get reach someone, she was told to file a form. Then she waited.

Hearing horror stories like these one prompted Senator Robert Casey from Pennsylvania to advocate for new protections.

“It’s a nationwide problem,” said Casey.

The legislation Casey is backing would force the IRS to tell people if their information has been used in a fraudulent returns. It would also assign consumers a single point of contact at the IRS, who would track an identity theft case from beginning to end. Victims would get expedited refunds. Finally, the legislation would increase the penalties for people caught using someone’s information to file fraudulently.

The next step for the legislation will be a committee meeting later this summer. Until then, the IRS has resources for victims of identity theft on its website:

 

As for Doty, she finally got to file, but not without a lot of headaches. “It’s just such a big issue,” said Doty. “I just knew it was going to be a nightmare.”


Get the latest from NBC DFW anywhere, anytime

Article source: http://www.nbcdfw.com/investigations/Lawmakers-Act-to-Help-Tax-ID-Theft-Victims-310767591.html

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7 On Your Side: Car identity theft – WABC

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

As if we didn’t have enough to worry about, right? The numbers on your car’s license plates are being duplicated by car ID thieves. And these scammers stole the number and started racking up tickets – even before the driver was issued her temporary tag.

Chelsea Dobrowolski thought she got caught. Her temp tag number’s snapped on EZ Pass’ camera, blowing through toll without paying.

“Holland Tunnel, Newark Airport. 1 and 3 a.m. in the morning,” Dobrowolski said.

But the 24 year old says she was NOT behind the wheel.

“I could have a warrant out for my arrest because of my plates,” Dobrowolski said.

Her plates, this temporary tag, issued by the dealer when she bought her used Ford Escape in March, have been hi-jacked. The stolen auto ID, photographed dozens of times on someone else’s vehicles. What kind of cars were going through? A white Jeep and a blue Mercedes.

Chelsea says she’s been trying to clear up her car’s ID theft when she got the first set of 10 violations, mostly from the NJ Turnpike Authority.

“One day for five hours, I made calls to this person and that person trying to email people and was getting nowhere,” said the frustrated car owner.

NJ EZ pass and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority requested proof of her cars registration and the tag number. So she says she faxed copies and a letter to the agency.

“And I heard nothing back from them,” Chelsea said.

In the meantime, the beauty school student supporting herself as waitress, kept getting more fines, plus hefty fees, for the unpaid tickets along with threatening collection notices.

“I didn’t know what to think. I just knew it wasn’t me and I was being blamed for something and could get my license suspended and it just scared me,” Chelsea said.

So we got involved and started to steer Chelsea out of her stalled situation with EZ-Pass.

“I got dismissal letters from New York and New Jersey EZ Pass,” Chelsea said.

Within days, they dismissed the fines and fees and finally taking Chelsea’s balance to 0.

“Thank you so much you have no idea you helped me so much,” Chelsea said.

NJ EZ Pass and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority told us it’s seen an increase in this crime in recent years. New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission said it’s constantly updating it’s security measures to stay one step ahead of crooks.

Best thing to do is if you feel you’ve been scammed, document the problem. And, if you notify agencies of the problem, keep proof that you sent it, like fax confirmation sheets and certified mail receipts.

Article source: http://7online.com/news/7-on-your-side-car-id-theft/816000/

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IRS Summit Produces ID Theft Pact with Tax Software Companies

Monday, June 29th, 2015

It wasn’t quite the Geneva conference, but a “summit meeting” on June 10 between the IRS and leaders from tax preparation and software firms, state tax officials and others could provide stronger deterrent to thefts of tax refunds involving ID theft.

According to an IRS press release, the agreement reached in Washington D.C. identifies new steps for validating taxpayer identities when tax returns are filed, increases information sharing between industry and governments and provides uniform standards for locating fraud patterns. And the parties at the summit have vowed that their collaborative efforts won’t end here.

This agreement represents a new era of cooperation and collaboration among the IRS, states and the electronic tax industry that will help combat identity theft and protect taxpayers against tax refund fraud,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a prepared statement. “We’ve made tremendous progress, and we will continue these efforts. Taxpayers filing their tax returns next filing season should have a safer and more secure experience.”

Koskinen got the ball rolling back on March 19 when he first convened with chief executive officers and leaders of private sector firm and federal and state tax administrators to discuss emerging threats on ID theft and expand existing collaborative efforts to stop fraud. Three specialized groups were established with members from the IRS, states and private industry co-chairing and serving on each team. During the past 12 weeks, the three teams focused on developing ways to validate the authenticity of taxpayers and information included on tax returns, information sharing to improve detection and expand prevention of refund fraud and threat assessment and strategy development to prevent risks and threats.

The groups agreed to several important new initiatives including the following:

Taxpayer authentication: The groups identified numerous new data elements that can be shared at the time of filing to help authenticate a taxpayer and detect identity theft refund fraud. Data will be submitted to the IRS and states with the tax return transmission for the 2016 filing season. Some of these elements are:

  • Reviewing the transmission of the tax return, including the improper and or repetitive use of Internet Protocol numbers and the Internet ‘address’ from which the return is originating.
  • Reviewing computer device identification data tied to the return’s origin.
  • Reviewing the time it takes to complete a tax return, so computer mechanized fraud can be detected.
  • Capturing metadata in the computer transaction that will allow review for identity theft related fraud.

Western Springs Police Reports: Property Damage, Identity Theft

Monday, June 29th, 2015

The information in the following reports is courtesy of the Western Springs Police Department.

Gloria Garcia, age 20 of the 3600 block of Wesley Avenue, Berwyn, was stopped June 16 for speeding at Woodland and Ogden avenues, according to Western Springs police. A records check showed she was driving with a suspended license. She was charged with driving while license suspended, speeding and no insurance, police reported.

Someone reportedly damaged the window between May 25 and 31 of a home in the 5200 block of Commonwealth Avenue, according to Western Springs police. The damaged window was 7 feet by 7 feet.

Someone obtained a Western Springs resident’s personal information and established a store credit card and made several fraudulent retail purchases between May 7 and 14, according to Western Springs police. The purchases totaled about $4,000.


Article source: http://patch.com/illinois/lagrange/western-springs-police-reports-property-damage-identity-theft

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NY man charged with using fake company to commit ID theft

Sunday, June 28th, 2015

Article source: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jun/27/ny-man-charged-with-using-fake-company-to-commit-i/

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Foreign suspect indicted in UPMC identity-theft tax case

Sunday, June 28th, 2015

Associated Press

PITTSBURGH

A federal grand jury has indicted a foreign citizen in a conspiracy to file more than 900 phony federal tax returns seeking $2.2 million in refunds by using employee information stolen from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Yoandy Perez Llanes, 31, and at least three others were part of a group who took those phony tax refunds as Amazon.com credits, a service that online filing service Turbo Tax offers customers, known as “monetizing,” U.S. Attorney David Hickton said.

The credits were used to buy smartphones, laptop and tablet computers, video games and other high-end electronics which were “re-shipped” by others, based in Miami, to Venezuelan cities including Maracay and Maracaibo, according to the indictment announced Friday.

Conspirators in Venezuela then sold the devices through online merchants or auction sites, or kept them for personal use.

“The important message here is we’ve identified the conspirators who have profited from the theft of employee information from UPMC,” Hickton said.

Hickton said the scheme was stopped after nearly $1.5 million of the refunds were paid out.

The 21-hospital network, which dominates western Pennsylvania, was hacked in early 2014 and UPMC officials said then it appeared as many as 27,000 of its 62,000 employees were affected.

Hickton wouldn’t say where Llanes lives, and a news release identified him only as a “foreign national residing outside of the United States.”

Court records show a federal judge in Pittsburgh issued an arrest warrant Thursday on charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft. Wire fraud and money laundering carry up to 20 years in prison each, and conspiracy up to five years. Aggravated identity theft carries a two-year penalty, which must be tacked onto any other sentence a person receives.

The scheme is detailed in the indictment, but Llanes’ precise role in it is not. Hickton declined to elaborate.

The other conspirators are not named. They’re referred to only as “one,” “two” and “three” but the indictment suggests there are an unspecified number of others involved, too.

Article source: http://www.vindy.com/news/2015/jun/27/foreign-suspect-indicted-in-upmc-identit/

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