Archive for April, 2016

Beth Kassab: The human toll of identity theft

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

If you’ve ever been the victim of a break-in, you know the total violation that comes with a stranger invading your personal space.

Now imagine that the burglar never leaves.

In this scenario, the vandal makes a copy of your house key, knows your alarm code and comes and goes as he pleases.

From one day to the next, you don’t know what will be stolen. Or if tomorrow will be worse.

Spike in ID theft bedevils consumers, cops in Central Florida

Spike in ID theft bedevils consumers, cops in Central Florida

It didn’t take long for Sena Howell to pick out the black Mercedes-Benz, forge a few signatures, flash a fake drivers license and drive away in the $50,000 sport-utility vehicle, cops say.

It took two weeks, though, for the victim to realize her identity had been stolen and that Howell had allegedly…

It didn’t take long for Sena Howell to pick out the black Mercedes-Benz, forge a few signatures, flash a fake drivers license and drive away in the $50,000 sport-utility vehicle, cops say.

It took two weeks, though, for the victim to realize her identity had been stolen and that Howell had allegedly…

(Stephanie Allen)

“When you get your house broken into, you feel violated … it’s terrible, but you can wrap your arms around that,” says Orlando Police Det. Todd Herb. “When I get identity theft victims calling, they never know when the next hit is coming.”

This happens to tens of thousands of people in Florida every year.

To be precise, there were 44,000 such cases filed with the Federal Trade Commission out of Florida last year, a 19 percent jump over 2014.

Florida has the third highest rate of identity theft in the nation with 217.4 complaints per 100,000 people, behind No. 1 Missouri and No. 2 Connecticut.

Just this week three people were charged with stealing the identities of Orange County students enrolled in a mentor program and using the data to fraudulently obtain Medicaid payments.

In March, an Orlando woman was arrested on charges that she ran an identity theft ring and sold the information to people who used stolen credit to pay for breast implants, tummy tucks and other plastic surgery.

Another woman used a forgery of her victim’s driver’s license, faked signatures and racked up $50,000 in debt in the victim’s name at a local Mercedes-Benz dealership.

In February, the University of Central Florida said the personal data of 63,000 students and employees was compromised.

Those are just the cases that make headlines.

Most don’t.

Investigators like Herb concede that in most cases, an arrest is never made.

“We have an ocean full of fraud,” he said. “And we try to take it out one teaspoon at a time.”

In addition to the enormous volume of cases, the crimes are tough to solve.

“Smart criminals are no longer dealing dope,” he said. “They’re doing numbers.”

“Doing numbers” is the street term for quick-hit financial crimes that are often untraceable.

Thieves can buy names and Social Security numbers for cheap on the dark web or even from the corner dealer.

“I pulled a list of 400 names off of a guy,” Herb said of one arrest. “Your name is worth, at most, $10, and as little as 50 cents.”

A whole life of building credit then somebody pays less than a buck for your digits and — boom — you’re left picking up the pieces.

Calls to all three credit bureaus to freeze credit. Affidavits to show that any fraudulent credit cards or other bills should be removed from your credit report. Victims are often advised to flag their profile at the Social Security Administration, the DMV and the IRS.

Being a victim of identity theft is an exercise in the misery of dealing with an alphabet soup of government bureaucracies. Hours on the phone. Certified letters. Lost sleep over what might have gotten missed.

Identity theft is not any less terrorizing because it’s committed with paper and keystrokes instead of a weapon.

We have little control over how well companies and government agencies protect our personal data.

But there are steps you can take.

Monitor your bank account closely. Vigilantly watch your credit report. Don’t use your Social Security number or other personal data such as your date of birth for anything that isn’t absolutely necessary. Shred papers with that information. Set up text alerts for account activity. Tell your credit card company you want to use a PIN number before altering settings on your account such as adding authorized users or changing the billing address.

Maybe 25 years ago it was common for people to sleep with their doors unlocked.

Not today.

Now people are looking back on a quainter time before we had to dead bolt our identities, too.

Article source:

Technorati Tags: ,

Woman Used Identity Theft To Fund Clients’ Plastic Surgery Procedures

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

AFlorida woman is in hot water after running a crime scheme that swindled more than $50,000 worth of plastic surgery and dental work in under a year. Terilyn Riggins used identity theft to help people afford different procedures, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

After nearly a year of investigating Riggins, Orlando Police officials zeroed in on the crime ring. Over that course of time, 14 Central Florida women were arrested and over a dozen people fell victim to identity theft. “The plastic surgery was tummy tucks, breast implants, breast reductions, the Brazilian whatever — whatever you could get with plastic surgery, that’s what they were getting done,” said Orlando Police Detective Todd Herb in a statement. More than half of the women arrested told police officials that Riggins, 28, aided them through the process, says the report.

Officials are unsure about how Riggins got the victims’ information, but upon receiving it, she was able to tap into their credit card accounts and charged a small fee to people looking to get procedures done. In some instances, medical offices were able to spot the fraud before moving forward with the procedures. According to the police report, Riggins’ cell phone number was used to call a credit card company over 300 times in less than a year. The phone number was reportedly linked to 16 accounts under the credit card company. Herb said the crime ring was Riggins’ “full-time job.” The company contacted police officials in July.

Some of the victims whose information was stolen disputed the charges and others overlooked the bills, according to the site. Riggins was arrested in March and charged with grand theft, scheme to defraud, and identity theft. According to the Federal Trade Commission, Florida is listed as one of the worst states when it comes to fraud and identity theft. In 2015, there were 490,000 complaints across the country.

SOURCE: Orlando Sentinel | PHOTO CREDIT: Juan Silva


Teen Doctor Malachi Love-Robinson Arrested Again For Defrauding Elderly Patient

Also On News One:

1. First Family Portrait

Obama Family Portrait

1 of 50

2. Two Terms


2 of 50

3. Family Portrait

Family Portrait

3 of 50

4. Barack Obama and Michelle Obama

President Obama Hosts Canadian PM Trudeau On His Official Visit To Washington
Source:Alex Wong/Getty Images

4 of 50

5. Fun In The Sun

Fun In The Sun

5 of 50

6. The Obamas on Air Force One

Sasha, Malia, Michelle Obama in London
6 of 50

7. Hawaiian Holidays

Hawaiian Holidays

7 of 50

8. The First Family in London

Sasha, Malia, Michelle Obama in London
8 of 50

9. A Young Malia Sasha

A Young Malia  Sasha

9 of 50

10. First Lady Michelle Obama with daughters Malia Obama and Sasha Obama

Sasha, Malia, Michelle Obama in London

10 of 50

11. Daddy’s Girl

Daddy's Girl

11 of 50

12. Barack Sasha

Barack  Sasha

12 of 50

13. Sasha and Malia Obama at the 2016 State Dinner

Sasha  Malia Obama

13 of 50

14. Turkey Pardoning

President Obama Pardons National Thanksgiving Turkey

14 of 50

15. Sunday Church

Source:MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

15 of 50

16. Gobble, Gobble

President Obama Pardons National Thanksgiving Turkey
Source:Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

16 of 50

17. Obama Sasha

Obama  Sasha

17 of 50

18. Malia Obama, the First Daughter

Malia Obama, First Daughters, First Family, Barack Obama

18 of 50

19. Barack Obama and his daughter Malia Obama


19 of 50

20. Team Obama

Team Obama

20 of 50

21. A Family Affair

109th U.S. Congress Sworn In

21 of 50

22. Flashback To The Old Days

The Obama Family

22 of 50

23. Happy Birthday!

Barack Obama Celebrates His Birthday

23 of 50

24. Candidly Awesome

The Obama Family
Source:Pete Souza/The White House

24 of 50

25. The Obamas Family Portrait

The Obamas Family Portrait

25 of 50

26. Historic First Family

Barack Obama Holds Election Night Gathering In Chicago's Grant Park

26 of 50

27. Ice Cream Treat

US President Barack Obama goes shopping during Small Business Saturday
Source:Aude Guerrucci-Pool/Getty Images

27 of 50

28. TV Time

The Obama Family
Source:Pete Souza/The White House

28 of 50

29. Playing In The Oval Office

Playing In The Oval Office

29 of 50

30. Always Giving Back


30 of 50

31. A Christmas Story

93rd Annual National Christmas Tree Lighting
Source:Paul Morigi/Getty Images

31 of 50

32. Hawaii Trip!

US President Barack Obama and his wife M

32 of 50

33. Obama Loves Team USA His Wife

Olympic Team USA Basketball

33 of 50

34. Malia and Sasha Obama

Source:SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

34 of 50

35. Michelle Plays on a Bike

First Lady Michelle Obama Celebrates International Women's Day At DC's Union Market
Source:Mark Wilson/Getty Images

35 of 50

36. Obama Loves Team USA, His Wife Malia

Olympic Team USA Basketball

36 of 50

37. Reading Time

The Obama Family

37 of 50

38. Family Support

The Inauguration of Barack Obama

38 of 50

39. The Sister Selfie

The Obama Family
Source:Pete Souza/The White House

39 of 50

40. Supporting Mom

The Obama Family
Source:Pete Souza/The White House

40 of 50

41. Giving Back On MLK Day

President Honors Martin Luther King, Jr With Day of Service

41 of 50

42. Obamas Give Back To The Community


42 of 50

43. Always Supporting Small Businesses

US President Barack Obama goes shopping during Small Business Saturday

43 of 50

44. Obama Swagger

Source:MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

44 of 50

45. Laughs Turkeys


45 of 50

46. Growing Up In The White House

Growing Up In The White House

46 of 50

47. Christmas With The Obamas


47 of 50

48. Malia Obama

Malia  Obama

48 of 50

49. 50th Anniversary Of March On Selma

Barack Obama

49 of 50

50. Christmas Tree Lighting

First Family Attends National Christmas Tree
Source:Olivier Douliery- Pool/Getty Images

50 of 50

Continue reading Woman Used Identity Theft To Fund Clients’ Plastic Surgery Procedures

Article source:

Technorati Tags: ,

Preview: Identity theft: Keep yourself safe

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

Next week, NewsChannel 21’s Alex Biston and Dani Fried investigate identity theft and how it could happen to you. On Monday, Dani will tell you how thieves can get hold of your identity. On Thursday, Alex will explain what you can do to protect yourself — and what to do if it happens to you.

Article source:

Technorati Tags: ,

Military Phone Scams: Phone Fraud and Identity Theft a Growing Issue for Military Personnel

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

Identity theft is classified as the act of someone stealing your personal identification in order to commit fraud. It can be the result of personal information being stolen via a phone call, email, mail, or a hacked online or mobile account. As opposed to civilian consumers, who were most affected by debt collection fraud, military consumers suffered from identity theft and impostor scams the most.

Article source:

Technorati Tags: ,

Police seek woman in Whitehall identity theft case

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

WHITEHALL — Police are hoping to identify a woman who illegally used a Whitehall woman’s bank card at the Valero station on MacArthur Road in March.

Police said multiple people are believed to have used the victim’s personal information and bank cards at various locations in the Lehigh Valley. The identity theft led to more than $3,000 in purchases.

Whitehall police are asking anyone with information to call 610-437-3042, extension 218.

Article source:

Technorati Tags: ,

SSA Putting Millions of Americans at Risk for Identity Theft

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

identity theft

Wikimedia Commons


April 29, 2016 4:35 pm

The Social Security Administration puts millions of Americans at risk for identity theft by putting their full Social Security Numbers on letters sent in the mail.

The agency’s inspector general released an audit this week warning the government that by sending hundreds of millions of letters containing individual’s Social Security Numbers it puts them at risk for identity theft.

“According to [the Social Security Administration] SSA, in 2015, it mailed about 233 million notices that included individuals’ full SSN,” the inspector general said. “We recognize SSA’s efforts can never eliminate the potential that dishonest individuals may inappropriately acquire and misuse SSNs. However, our audit and investigative work have shown that the more SSNs are unnecessarily used, the higher the probability that they could be used inappropriately.”

“The security of beneficiaries’ [Personally Identifiable Information] PII should be foremost, and as a Federal agency and public servant, we believe SSA should be in the forefront of establishing policy and practice by limiting SSN use and disclosure,” the audit said.

Sixty-six percent of the 352 million notices the agency sent out last year contained Americans’ full Social Security Numbers, and the government said it has no idea how many never made it to the correct address.

“While it is unknown how many of the intended addressees received these notices, our audit work has shown that the addresses in SSA’s records can be inaccurate,” the inspector general said.

“We asked SSA whether it maintained any estimates on the number of mailings that were returned as undeliverable. SSA stated that it did not have any Agency-level number on undeliverable mail,” they said. “SSA could not provide us an estimate of the number of notices with SSNs it mails annually that do not reach the intended recipients and are not returned to SSA.”

The inspector general warned that notices sent to the wrong address can increase identify theft, as it can give strangers access to vital personal information. “Notices intercepted by unintended recipients could provide SSA beneficiaries’ names, addresses, and SSNs to individuals other than the numberholders,” they said.

Auditors said they do not currently have documented proof of identity theft that has occurred as a result of agency letters going to the wrong address, though the agency acknowledged “there is a risk of identity theft anytime it sends correspondence that contains PII.”

The inspector general said identity theft is “one of the fastest-growing crimes” in the country.”

“With a stolen SSN, identity thieves can commit any number of financial crimes in the victim’s name or steal money from the victim,” the audit said. “If the victim is a senior citizen, the thief could even target their Social Security benefits.”

“SSA acknowledges that identity thieves may obtain another’s personal information by stealing their mail or rummaging through their trash,” the inspector general concluded. “It is, therefore, troubling that SSA continues including the full SSN on the majority of its mailings.”

Article source:

Technorati Tags: ,

Trial date set in identify theft case against Allison Burchett

Friday, April 29th, 2016

Allison Burchett

By Jamie Satterfield of the Knoxville News Sentinel

After months of delay, a trial date has been set for a Knoxville businessman’s lover accused of a cyberattack on her beau’s ex-wife during a contentious divorce battle.

Senior Judge Don R. Ash has set a Jan. 17 trial date for Allison Beaver Burchett, girlfriend of Bandit Lites founder and owner Mike Strickland and ex-wife of Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. Ash was tapped by the Tennessee Supreme Court to handle the case after Knox County Criminal Court Judge Steve Sword recused himself.

Sword and Mayor Burchett are both Republicans whose paths sometimes cross in political circles, prompting the judge to agree to Allison Burchett’s request for him to step away from the case.

Allison Burchett is charged with six counts of identity theft, six counts of unlawful access to a computer and one count of creating a fake document to influence the divorce battle between her accuser, Jo Nicole Velasco Strickland, and her live-in boyfriend.

The September indictment came after a raid by the Knoxville Police Department — aided by federal agents — on the home Burchett and Michael Strickland share as well as on the offices of Bandit Lites, a global industry leader in lighting for concerts and other entertainment events such as the Country Music Association Awards.

Nicole Strickland also has filed a lawsuit against Burchett and her estranged husband, alleging Burchett’s crimes were part of a cyber siege against her in 2014 while she battled breast cancer, signed up for food assistance and fought to prove she was forced into signing a prenuptial agreement.

Attorneys in the lawsuit describe an attack on Strickland that included her identity being stolen, her electricity cut off, unauthorized purchases made from her bank accounts, photos from her mastectomy posted on her Facebook account with derogatory remarks, her cellphone hacked, her pharmacy records illegally accessed, a tracking device placed on her car, and fake email and credit card accounts created in her name.

Strickland insists in the lawsuit her estranged husband was not only aware of the cyberattacks but a willing party to a plot to wreak havoc on her life. He is not charged in the criminal case. The criminal charges are directly related to the allegations in the lawsuit.

Allison Burchett is represented by veteran Knoxville defense attorney David Eldridge and well-known Nashville white-collar defense attorney Aubrey Harwell in the criminal case.

Jamie Satterfield thumbnail

Article source:

Technorati Tags: ,

Identity theft aftermath: victims of major ID theft ring react

Friday, April 29th, 2016

More than 100 people were targeted in a major identity theft ring that Bellevue Police broke up earlier this month.

Article source:

Technorati Tags: ,

Hartford woman arrested on identity theft charges

Friday, April 29th, 2016
handcuffs  gavel

SOUTH WINDSOR, Conn. (WTNH) – A Hartford woman is facing multiple charges after she allegedly forged a business check.

South Windsor police say, Kassandra Garcia, 23, of Hartford stole a check from a local business in January 2016. The business reported to police that one of their checks was altered, making Garcia the payee for $1728.00. Investigators obtained bank records and determined that the check had been altered.

Police state that Garcia is charged with identity theft, forgery, and larceny. She was held on a $10,000 bond and was arraigned later that day.

Article source:

Technorati Tags: ,

House Committee Passes IRS Legislation on Identity Theft, Missing Children and Tax-Exempt Donors

Friday, April 29th, 2016

The House Ways and Means Committee has passed three bills related to the Internal Revenue Service in the areas of taxpayer identity theft, recovery of missing children, and donor information for tax-exempt organizations.

Kevin Brady

“We’re here today to advance more commonsense solutions that make sure the IRS is serving all Americans not working against them,” said House Ways and Means Committee chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas. “…Simply put, these proposals put the best interests of children and taxpayers first.”

The Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Prevention Act (H.R. 3832) lays out actions the IRS must take to combat the growing problem of identity theft. It helps victims by making it easier to work with the IRS to resolve identity theft cases and requires the IRS to notify a taxpayer whose identity was compromised.

“Tax-related ID theft is an evolving criminal activity that targets innocent taxpayers nationwide and robs the Treasury of billions of dollars each year,” said bill sponsor Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, who had his identity stolen during tax season last year. “While I am aware that not every tax-related ID theft problem is best served with a Congressional solution, this legislation is an important step in fighting ID theft and better protecting victims.”

The committee unanimously approved the Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Prevention Act after adopting several amendments offered by Reps. John Lewis, D-Ga., and Bill Pascrell, D-N.J.

The committee also unanimously passed the Recovering Missing Children Act (H.R. 3209), which will help local law enforcement agencies find missing or exploited children using information from the IRS.

“According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, more than 200,000 children are abducted by family members every year,” said Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., who sponsored the bill. “We owe it to these children to make sure that law enforcement agencies have every tool at their disposal to effectively investigate and solve these crimes … The bipartisan [legislation includes] missing children cases as an acceptable instance when law enforcement, with a warrant, can work with the IRS to secure tax information crucial to solving a crime.”

However, the third piece of legislation provoked more controversy among the Republicans and Democrats on the committee.

The Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act (H.R. 5053) would protect the identities of taxpayers who donate to tax-exempt organizations by eliminating the Schedule B, which Republicans on the committee contended the IRS has used to improperly target the groups during the Tea Party targeting scandal. The bill would prevent the IRS from collecting the identity of donors who contribute to tax-exempt organizations.

“This bill prohibits the IRS from collecting donor information on the Schedule B form,” said Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., who sponsored the bill. “The Schedule B is not needed for taxpayer administration. In fact, the IRS has indicated they were considering eliminating the requirement themselves. Tax-exempt groups should not be forced to expend precious resources on unnecessary documentation and tax administration rather than focusing on their charitable missions. The IRS has not demonstrated the capacity to safeguard confidential information in the past. There is no reason we should send them any more sensitive information than they need to do their job.”

Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., the ranking Democrat on the committee, spoke out against this piece of legislation, although he supported the other two bills.

“After the Citizens United Supreme Court decision in 2010, there was a sharp rise in undisclosed money in federal elections, which has created opportunities for influence-buying and corruption,” he said. “This bill potentially opens the door for unlimited, secret money from foreign governments or individuals to be funneled into our elections. Currently, foreign money cannot be legally given or spent in our elections. And the only real protection we have against the use of foreign money by politically active 501(c)(4) organizations is that they must disclose their donors to the IRS. Instead of working to move us forward on this problem of undisclosed money in elections—to make the whole system more transparent—this bill moves us backward.”

Democrats pointed out that an official working for Charles and David Koch, two of the biggest donors to Republican candidates, sent a letter Thursday to Republican members of the Ways and Means Committee asking them to support H.R. 5053.

Article source:

Technorati Tags: ,