Archive for June, 2015

Police: Hit and Run Driver Now Facing ID Theft Charges

Sunday, June 28th, 2015



Police say a driver smashed through a fence and then took off running early Sunday morning near Barnes and Peterson in Colorado Springs.

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Police say a driver smashed through a fence and then took off running early Sunday morning near Barnes and Peterson in Colorado Springs.

Officers caught him a few blocks away in a neighbor’s yard. Police tell 11 News when they searched the driver and the truck he was driving, they found multiple I.D. cards and stolen papers from other people.

We’re told 25-year-old Robert Stone was arrested and charged with hit and run along with identity theft.

Police don’t know why the driver hit a fence. Alcohol was not suspected. No one was injured.

Article source: http://www.kktv.com/news/headlines/Police-Hit-and-Run-Driver-Now-Facing-ID-Theft-Charges-310464021.html

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Job hunters rightly fear identity theft

Sunday, June 28th, 2015

Communities

Happy Daze music festival and rally at Gulfport Dragway raising money for families in need

Article source: http://www.sunherald.com/2015/06/27/6297706/job-hunters-rightly-fear-identity.html

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Foreign suspect indicted in identity theft tax case at Pittsburgh hospital

Sunday, June 28th, 2015

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 Pérez 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.

UPMC issued only a brief statement on the indictment:

“On behalf of our employees whose personal information was compromised by hackers, we applaud the diligent and thorough investigation conducted by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the United States Secret Service and the United States Postal Inspection Service leading to the indictment in this case.”

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

“We have a fix on him, but out of deference and respect to both the continuing investigation and our efforts to bring him to justice here, I don’t want to be more specific,” Hickton said.

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.

Although the scheme is detailed in the indictment, Llanes’ precise role in it is not and 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.

“The good news is we’ve specifically identified groups who stole identities and used them to file over $2 million in false tax returns,” Hickton said.

Although it details only crimes that occurred between January and April of 2014, Hickton stopped short of saying the scheme ended.

“In any computer hacking scheme, I’d be loath to say we’ve completely stopped it,” Hickton said. “But this indictment is good news that we’ve disrupted the conspiracy.”

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Article source: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2015/06/27/foreign-suspect-indicted-in-identity-theft-tax-case-at-pittsburgh-hospital/

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Watchdog: A guide to identity theft you’ll actually use – Springfield News

Sunday, June 28th, 2015

When it comes to keeping up with the creativity of criminals, I am woefully behind the times.

Six or seven years ago, when I still regularly covered crime and court cases, identity theft was downright primitive. Thieves raided mailboxes for credit card applications, stole checkbooks and used purloined driver’s license and Social Security cards to set up fake bank accounts.

These days, scammers hack entire online databases, sweeping up credit card numbers and personal passwords thousands at a time. They file fake insurance claims and empty PayPal accounts — heck, some will even do your taxes for you (then pocket the refund).

Often, the aftermath is more costly than the actual theft, as victims toil to dispute fraudulent charges and repair their credit scores.

Whether you find yourself among the millions of citizens who will become identity theft victims this year, or want to avoid that fate, a new publication from the Missouri Attorney General’s Office may be of use.

The 36-page “Identity Theft Resource Guide,” released this past week, includes a breakdown of nine — nine! — types of identity theft, and about two and half pages of tips to protect yourself against becoming a victim.

These range from relatively simple (create strong online passwords and don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet) to more extreme (rent a post office box or install a locking mailbox).

The book is even more helpful for anyone who already is a victim, providing a step-by-step guide to reporting identity theft and securing your accounts. Included are links to online reporting sites, phone numbers for credit agencies and government hotlines.

Perhaps most useful are the appendices containing complaint forms, worksheets and sample letters consumers can copy and use to try to halt or reverse the damage done to their credit scores.

“Identity theft is often a devastating, costly experience,” Attorney General Chris Koster said in a news release announcing the guide. “We are providing Missourians with detailed information to help protect their personal privacy and to repair damage to credit records if they ever become a victim of identity theft.”

I’ve been a fan of some of the attorney general’s other publications — my three copies of the Missouri Sunshine Law booklet see as much use, or more, than my Webster’s dictionary and Associated Press Stylebook — and this one ranks with the best. Offering specific and detailed guidance, it’s exactly the sort of thing I’d want downloaded on my phone or stashed in a cabinet at home in case of an emergency. (Also, it’s free).

To view a digital copy of the guide, click on this link online or go to www.ago.mo.gov and search for “Identity Theft Resource Guide.” If you’d prefer a printed copy, you can fill out a form online at https://ago.mo.gov/other-resources/publications/order-publications and the attorney general’s office will mail you one, free of charge. (If you don’t have online access, you might try calling the office’s Consumer Protection hotline, 1-800-392-8222, to request a copy). Copies of about a dozen other publications, including the Sunshine Law guide, also are available.

Article source: http://www.news-leader.com/story/news/watchdog/2015/06/27/watchdog-guide-identity-theft-actually-use/29402999/

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Benton Co. man wanted on identity theft charges – WBBJ

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

Story Created:
Jun 25, 2015 at 10:51 PM CDT

Story Updated:
Jun 26, 2015 at 11:33 AM CDT

Article source: http://www.wbbjtv.com/news/local/Benton-Co-man-wanted-accused-of-identity-theft---309979831.html

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Taking steps to prevent identity theft after a loved one dies

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

Turns out identity theft can go beyond the grave.

But fortunately there is something you can do about it.

Thieves use the identities of around 2.5 million deceased people each year for everything from credit cards and loans to tax refunds, according to a study by ID Analytics, a San Diego-based identity-theft protection firm.

The study looked at 100 million applications for credit cards, cell phones, retail and other credit products and financial services. It found approximately 800,000 instances where a deceased person’s identity was deliberately targeted for misuse and several hundred thousand cases where a dying person’s identity was potentially being misused.

On top of that, there were 1.6 million fraudulent applications using a fabricated Social Security number that unintentionally matched the Social Security number of a deceased person.

While thieves can use public information such as birth dates in obituaries and names from genealogy websites to steal an identity, other sources include incomplete data in government files.

For example, this spring the inspector general of the Social Security Administration reported that his auditors found 6.5 million people with active Social Security numbers (SSNs) who were age 112 or older, and no death information on file.

“We initiated this review after a financial institution reported a man opened bank accounts with several different SSNs, two of which belonged to number holders born in 1886 and 1893” who were likely deceased, said Patrick P. O’Carroll, Jr., the inspector general, in testimony before Congress.

Why should we care what happens to the identity of our deceased loved ones? Generally family members are not liable for any credit card debt or benefit received illegally from using personal information of a dead relative (unless they are doing the fraud themselves).

But such issues could quickly muddy the waters when dissolving an individual’s assets, costing time and money, according to Sally Hume, an elder law attorney and author of “The ABA AARP Checklist for Family Survivors.”

“The executor of the estate would have to clean up any identity theft problems,” she said.

Without the person alive and able to see any unusual account activity, identity thieves can have free reign, she said.

“Obviously that person is not checking credit reports or bank accounts or anything like that,” she said.

Nikki Fiorentino, spokeswoman for the Identity Theft Resource Center, said she was dismayed to find her own father’s Social Security number with his record on a genealogy website a few years ago.

The data came from Social Security’s death master files, a version of which was made public after a Freedom Of Information court case in 1978. O’Carroll said in his testimony that the Social Security file has since had some legal limits placed on it.

For example, SSA has removed the deceased’s last known state and zip code from the public Death Master File, he said. Also, a 2013 federal law delays including the death information on the public file for three years to reduce potential fraud and identity theft.

There are a number of steps family members can do to avoid this problem, Hume said.

First and foremost, send the family’s member death certificate to the three credit reporting bureaus and request a deceased flag be placed on the credit report, she said.

“There is no surefire way to prevent identity theft,” she said. “But at least if the account is flagged that this person is deceased, there’s a better opportunity that whoever might attempt to obtain credit will not be able to do their tomfoolery.”

The Identity Theft Reseource Center recommends sending the letters by certified mail and including the name, Social Security number, last address, last five years of addresses and date of birth and death of the deceased. The center also suggests that the report be flagged with the following alert: “Deceased. Do not issue credit. If an application is made for credit, notify the following person immediately,” listing the next surviving relative or an executor.

Second, notify credit card companies, banks, brokerage houses and any other place where the deceased had an account and request account closure or change of joint ownership, Hume said.

“Get a wagonload of death certificates from the funeral home,” she said. “You’re going to need one to spread far and wide.”

Hume also recommends limiting the amount of information in an obituary, including the deceased’s birth date.

“So many times people gush forth with a lot of personal details about their individual loved one,” she said. “We know that identity thieves read obituaries for that information.”

The center also recommends requesting a copy of the decedent’s credit report to let you know of any active credit accounts that need to be closed or pending collection notices.

Bottom line: protect your deceased loved one from ID theft after they’re gone.

Teresa McUsic’s column appears Saturdays. TMcUsic@SavvyConsumer.net

Who to notify of a death

▪  Social Security Administration.

▪  Insurance companies – auto, health, life.

▪  Veteran’s Administration, if a former member of the military.

▪  Immigration Services — if not a U.S. citizen.

▪  Department of Motor Vehicles if the person had a driver’s license or state ID card. Transfer any vehicle registration papers to the new owners.

▪  Agencies with professional licenses such as the bar association, medical licenses, cosmetician.

▪  Membership programs like video rental, public library, fitness club.

Source: Identity Theft Resource Center

Article source: http://www.star-telegram.com/news/business/biz-columns-blogs/teresa-mcusic/article25579672.html

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Step-by-step guide for identity theft victims

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

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Article source: http://www.13wmaz.com/story/news/2015/06/26/step-by-step-guide-for-identity-theft-victims/29361051/

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Hammond woman hit with federal indictment for alleged identity theft, bogus …

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

A Hammond woman was indicted by a federal grand jury Friday (June 26) on eight counts of mail fraud and aggravated identity theft, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Orleans. The charges stem from a sprawling “multi-year tax fraud scheme,” prosecutors said.

Raven Hughes, 27, of Hammond, got the names and social security numbers of individuals and used that information to prepare false tax returns. Those returns also generated large tax refunds for Hughes that she cashed, federal prosecutors allege.

Because Hughes allegedly used post office boxes she opened throughout Louisiana, she was open to the charges of mail fraud, a U.S. Attorney’s Office press release said.

In addition, Hughes sometimes arranged for the refunds to be deposited electronically into bank accounts she controlled, the indictment outlines. All told, Hughes generated not fewer than 148 federal income tax returns in the names of “at least 103 different individuals without their knowledge or authorization,” according to the Justice Department.

The total of the bogus refunds Hughes sought the Department of the Treasury between 2009 and 2012 was more than $646,000 and she received at least $199,050, federal prosecutors allege.

If convicted, Hughes could receive up to 20 years in prison for each count of mail fraud, followed by up to three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine, the press release said. The aggravated identity theft charge carries a mandatory consecutive two-year sentence, the press release said.

Article source: http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2015/06/hammond_woman_hit_with_federal.html

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Foreign Suspect Indicted In UPMC Identity Theft Tax Case

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

CBS Pittsburgh (con’t)

Affordable Care Act Updates:
CBSPittsburgh.com/ACA

Health News Information:
CBSPittsburgh.com/Health

PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – 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.

UPMC issued only a brief statement on the indictment:

“On behalf of our employees whose personal information was compromised by hackers, we applaud the diligent and thorough investigation conducted by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the United States Secret Service and the United States Postal Inspection Service leading to the indictment in this case.”

UPMC employees KDKA talked to were not comfortable talking on camera; however, folks who had their identities stolen were pleased with the indictment, but frustrated with the process.

The employees KDKA talked to also say UPMC provided them with five years of what’s called Lifelock, a company that watches all personal financial transactions, looks for suspicions activity, and protects consumers against identity theft.

A news release identified Llanes as a “foreign national residing outside of the United States.”

“We have a fix on him, but out of deference and respect to both the continuing investigation and our efforts to bring him to justice here, I don’t want to be more specific,” Hickton said.

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.

Although the scheme is detailed in the indictment, Llanes’ precise role in it is not and 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.

“The good news is we’ve specifically identified groups who stole identities and used them to file over $2 million in false tax returns,” Hickton said.

Although it details only crimes that occurred between January and April of 2014, Hickton stopped short of saying the scheme ended.

“In any computer hacking scheme, I’d be loath to say we’ve completely stopped it,” Hickton said. “But this indictment is good news that we’ve disrupted the conspiracy.”

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(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Article source: http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2015/06/26/foreign-suspect-indicted-in-upmc-identity-theft-tax-case/

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Sen. Casey pushes identity theft bill – Pittsburgh Post

Saturday, June 27th, 2015


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Highlighting data showing that Pennsylvania is second in the nation for incidents of identity theft, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., on Thursday pushed for passage of a bill that he said would help prevent ID theft and improve the response of the IRS to identity theft-related tax fraud.

In speaking to reporters, Mr. Casey said the Identity Theft and Tax Fraud Prevention Act of 2015, introduced in March by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., would phase out unnecessary use of Social Security numbers in the health care system, among other measures.

Although Pennsylvania is sixth in population, he said, it ranked second to Florida in 2014 in the number of confirmed ID theft cases at 172,426. He said he didn’t know why that was, although it may be that Pennsylvania just tracks its data better than other states, but he said too many “bad guys” are getting ahold of Americans’ personal information and using it to commit tax fraud.

The new law would expedite refunds for victims of ID theft, ensure that victims have a single point of contact at the IRS for tracking cases, require that the IRS inform victims when their information has been used in tax fraud and set up a law enforcement liaison within the IRS criminal investigation division to work with state and local police.

The bill would also phase out the use of Social Security numbers used to identify patients in the health care system and increase penalties for those who engage in tax fraud and for tax preparers who disclose tax return information.

Tax fraud schemes in all forms have long been a priority of the criminal investigation division of the IRS but have mushroomed, particularly in Pennsylvania.

One of the most recent examples in Pittsburgh was a group of Georgia residents and one Hill District man who conspired to use Georgia prison inmate IDs to create nearly 600 false income tax returns in 2010 and 2011, filing them through an online tax preparation service to get $2 million in false refunds.

The IRS caught them and the four Georgia residents were sentenced this month. The Pittsburgh man, Frank Smith, 70, was already serving three years in federal prison.

Torsten Ove: tove@post-gazette.com.

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Article source: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/state/2015/06/26/Sen-Bob-Casey-pushes-ID-theft-bill/stories/201506260156

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