Archive for December, 2016

Identity-theft thieves target home mailboxes, sheriff says

Friday, December 30th, 2016

Investigators say the suspects have been looking for mailboxes in Jensen Park Estates that have a flag raised, indicating there is outgoing mail to be collected. Consumer bills containing personal checks written as payment were taken, the sheriff’s office said. The suspects were searching for credit-card and bank-account information, the sheriff’s office said.

Article source: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/crime--law/identity-theft-thieves-target-jensen-beach-mailboxes-sheriff-says/8Z3dOu8YhTNMyigdw0cOeL/

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The Fab Mom On 2: How To Protect Your Child From Identity Theft …

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

Beginning Sunday, California law will allow parents to freeze their children’s credit regardless if they have a credit file for purposes of protecting them from identity theft. Last year, about 18 million people were victims of some kind of identity theft.

Children are considered easy targets because of clean credit records. Michael Bruemmer, vice president of Consumer Protection at Experian explains: “Children’s personal information, such as a Social Security number, full name or home address, is used by thieves it to create a new identity and commit fraud. Unfortunately, when children are victims of identity theft and fraud, it often goes unnoticed for years.”

In a survey of 1,000 parents conducted by Experian.com earlier this year, only 16 percent of parents surveyed said they had ever checked to see if their children had a credit report.

How do you find out if your child’s credit has been compromised?

  • Take notice of credit card and loan offers that might come in the mail. An influx might mean that someone is taking advantage of your child’s credit.
  •  Check your child’s credit report with all 3 bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

And if no credit report exists? That’s a good thing and means you’re most likely in the safe zone.

What can you do if you suspect your child is a victim?

Take these steps:

  • Check for a credit report in your child’s name. If a credit report exists, it can be frozen.
  • If you know of any accounts opened in your child’s name, contact the business and let them know the account is fraudulent.
  •  File a report with the FTC online or call 877-438-4338.
  • File a police report with local law enforcement.

Is it recommended to freeze a child’s credit solely for the purpose of protecting their credit file for the future?

CBS News consumer reporter and managing editor of NewsMom.com Julie Watts, who ran a multipart investigative series about child identity theft in 2015-16, explains: “If your kid does not have a credit file, a crook can still steal their identity and create one for them … unless their credit is frozen. Freeze your kid’s credit. There is no reason not to.” According to Watts’ research and reports, the Federal Trade Commission, ID Theft Network and Identity Theft Council recommend a freezing credit for minors for full protection from credit fraud.

For information about how to freeze credit in California, visit here.

Jill Simonian is a Parenting Lifestyle Contributor, appearing on CBS Los Angeles every Wednesday on News at 5pm and Friday mornings at 6:45am. Her personal blog is TheFabMom.com. Follow Jill on Twitter @jillsimonian and connect with her on Facebook.

Article source: http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2016/12/28/the-fab-mom-on-2-how-to-protect-your-child-from-identity-theft/

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Suspect Identified In SF Identity Theft Case

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO—Police have arrested a woman on charges of identity theft and forgery, after 7 On Your Side reportedly helped resolve the case after a San Francisco teacher allegedly had her bank account robbed by the suspect.

Mimi Murphy of San Francisco claimed she watched from her smartphone’s banking application as the suspect stole money from both her checking and savings account.

According to reports, Murphy first realized she had been robbed after checking the banking app on her phone after her debit card was declined. She noticed that $3,500 had been stolen from the account she had set up for her daughter. Upon discovering this, she called her banking provider.

Murphy was put on hold, and during that time she reported that she used her application to watch the suspect gradually withdraw money from her savings account. She described a feeling of “sheer helplessness” as she watched her balance dissipate.

When the bank answered her call, Murphy requested that they “freeze” her accounts immediately, she said.

The bank was able to refund the stolen money from Murphy’s saving account, and after further investigation her checking account was refunded as well.

7 On Your Side called Murphy to inform her that the suspect used a fake ID in order to obtain a copy of her debit card and change the PIN.

After receiving a tip, Vacaville police located the suspect’s apartment, where they found 27 fake IDs, each of which was criminally manufactured–including the forged driver’s license with Murphy’s name and address, police said. The suspect, identified as Kristina Wilson, was arrested and pleaded not guilty to charges of identity theft and forgery. She was released on a $35,000 bail and failed to appear in court. Authorities have issued a bench warrant out for her arrest.

Article source: http://www.thesfnews.com/break-identity-theft-case-sf-resident-mimi-murphy/32495

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Death Of NY State Trooper Leads Authorities To ID Theft Ring

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The tragic death of a New York State trooper may help dismantle a major identity theft ring.

A man was behind bars Wednesday night, but the investigation is just getting started.

Right after the death of Trooper Timothy Pratt, someone used his personal information to open a charge account at Home Depot, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported. State Police learned about it the day of his funeral.

Police raided apartments in Inwood and Yonkers, discovering evidence including a dozen so-called “burner” cell phones.

They also found a number of fake IDs — one of which had a picture of a man named Stephen Calderon, but the name of the fallen hero.

“I think that’s ludicrous,” Yonkers resident Jerry Anthony said. “That’s crazy, I can’t see how people could do that.”

Pratt died in a tragic accident upstate while on duty in October. Investigators say within a day or so, an ID theft ring had provided his vital information to Calderon.

They allege Calderon posed as Pratt to obtain a credit card at a Home Depot in central Westchester, where he bought a $900 washing machine. He then went on a shopping spree at a second store in northern Westchester.

It was there that he started raising red flags.

“He attempted to purchase about $4,800 more in items, which put him over the credit limit he had just received so they started asking questions,” State Police Captain Robert Patnaude said.

Somehow, the store made the connection to the dead trooper.

Captain Patnaude says on the day of his funeral, the fallen trooper’s daughter got a call from Home Depot asking about purchases made in her father’s name. She immediately reported that to state police — launching the investigation that lead to Tuesday’s arrest of Calderon.

“We seized a lot of evidence yesterday,” said Patnaude, “and we believe that’s going to help us arrest more people.”

According a sources, Calderon told state police had he known Pratt was a recently deceased state trooper he would have never stolen his identity.

 

Article source: http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2016/12/28/death-of-ny-state-trooper-leads-authorities-to-id-theft-ring/

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Carmel Woman Arrested for Falsely Claiming Identity Theft

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

DOVER PLAINS, NY — A Putnam County woman was arrested for falsely claiming she was a victim of identity theft.

Virginia Wittenberg, 48, of Carmel, was charged with second-degree offering a false instrument for filing, a misdemeanor.

State Police said an investigation into Wittenberg’s claim of identity theft was found to not be true.

She was arrested and released on an appearance ticket to return to the Town of Dover Court Jan. 5.

Image via Shutterstock.

Article source: http://patch.com/new-york/midhudsonvalley/carmel-woman-arrested-falsely-claiming-identity-theft

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Identity Theft

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

With the arrival of the joyous days of Chanukah and the commemoration of the miraculous events that saved us from both physical as well as spiritual persecution, one cannot help but take note of the fact that while identity theft is a scourge of our technologically-advanced generation, it was identity theft, in a way, that threatened to eradicate us as a people back then as well.

Whereas on Pesach it was Paroh and the Egyptians who sought to enslave us, and on Purim it was Haman who worked to annihilate our entire people, on Chanukah our enemies were not only the Greeks, but the Misyavnim, our own Hellenized brothers, whose goal was to engineer our destruction. From the time we were taken from Egyptian slavery and pronounced as G-d’s people, we understood clearly that our national identity was inexorably linked to our fidelity to the Torah. There is no Jewish identity independent of a Torah identity.

The Misyavnim fought to change all that. They sought not to eradicate our nation, but rather to hijack its very identity and replace it with a glitzier, but ultimately hollow, shell. They desired not the death of the Jewish people, but rather the co-opting of its very identity.

As we joyously commemorate the miraculous way in which Hashem not only saved Torah Jewry from the nefarious schemes of the Hellenistic identity thieves, but publicly displayed His divine affection for us as well, it may be worthwhile spending a few moments on the issue of identity theft, its dangers, and how we can save ourselves from this terrible scourge.

How Does Identity Theft Work?

Basically, identity theft begins when someone, or a group of people, learn the secret details of your identity. Once this information is in their possession, they can use it to buy expensive items, open lines of credit, take out huge loans, even buy homes – all under your name! They then enjoy the items while the unsuspecting victim is stuck with the bill.

As identity theft grows unchecked, identity thieves have come upon nefarious ways to damage their victims even further. Thieves have learned not only how to steal one’s identity, but how to ensure that the victim never even realizes his identity has been stolen in the first place! In an even newer and far more insidious twist, identity thieves have hit upon methods wherein their victims no longer even recognize which is their own true original identity. Thus, the victims themselves now take out the loans, make the most extravagant purchases, and put themselves in debt, while the thieves don’t have to do any of the actual stealing. In this way, cunning identity thieves turn their very victims into partners in their own downfall.

Though any form of identity theft is wrong and illegal, this last form is the most dehumanizing. The victim is turned into a zombie, an unthinking robot, an unwitting accomplice in robbing himself blind. Having had his identity stolen, he no longer recognizes who he really is.

Debt Spending

One particular area that has been hard hit by this last type of identity theft is consumer spending. In the days before identity theft, a person knew who he was, understood his financial standing, and spent accordingly. Obviously, he would never buy on someone else’s credit or spend money somebody else has.

Victims of the latest and most sophisticated types of identity theft, however, not only have their true identities stolen, but have been made to believe that they are somebody else’s identity. They can no longer differentiate between their own identity and the identity of their rich neighbor. They are no longer cognizant of whose identity is whose, and they begin to behave as if they are their rich neighbor. Thus, a simple person begins to spend on his house, his car, his weddings and affairs, and his day-to-day expenditures far, far more than he could ever afford. The thieves gleefully rake it in as the person’s spending habits skyrocket out of control, leaving the poor victim to wallow in hopeless debt.

Who Am I?

While identity theft has always primarily occurred in relation to financial matters, a rising number of cases concern non-financial identity theft as well. At times, an identity may be stolen for terror-related reasons, such as to give cover to foreign nationals, allowing them to operate under an assumed identity.

A less dangerous but more spiteful category of identity theft which has become quite widespread lately is theft carried out for no reason other than to simply embarrass the victim. Perpetrators steal a victim’s identity and lead him to believe that he is someone else. Having achieved that aim, they gleefully watch the poor victim making a fool of himself as he goes about acting as if he is of another identity. Such thieves have been known to trick women into wearing clothing that look horrendous on them, or far too small, by fooling the wearer into thinking that she is someone else for whom such clothing is indeed suitable.

Some truly sadistic identity thieves have gone so far in switching identities as to have their poor victims parade about in all sorts of weird or mismatched clothing. Some have been duped into believing that they are bandana-wearing ghetto thugs, ‘60’s hippies or motorcycle gangsters. They then dress the part, not realizing how foolish they look impersonating an identity that is clearly not theirs.

Tricks of the Identity Theft Trade

How do identity thieves steal one’s identity in the first place? Understanding how they do it is the first step in preventing oneself from falling victim.

There are three primary methods utilized by identity thieves in accomplishing their nefarious goals: Spamming, Phishing, and good old-fashioned Stealing.

Spamming is a term used to describe the overwhelming of a victim with a never-ending stream of junk mail, junk ads, junk articles, junk slogans, junk publications, and many other sort of junk messages. What spam does is overwhelm the receiver, whose mind, flooded with an overload of information, simply shuts down and goes blank.

This is exactly what the thieves have been waiting for. Having flooded the victim’s mind with spam and then shut it down as a result, his natural defenses and caution are circumvented, and they are free to walk right in and implant any ideas and any identity they so desire into the blank and receptive mind of the unsuspecting victim.

For example, identity thieves may spam a victim with hundreds of ads, appearing in quick succession, with messages like, “The shaitel/toy/deal/hall everyone is raving about!”

Or, “Are you the only person on your block who has not yet eaten at YunGrilLite?”

The spam can also come in the form of advice from tens of salespeople, all repeatedly spamming you with the same message, such as, “But this is what they’re all buying/wearing/doing.”

Once a victim is overwhelmed with all this spam, he finds it difficult to remember what is truth and what is fiction. He suddenly believes that perhaps everyone really is raving about this or that toy, going to this or that eatery, or wearing this or that style. The fact that it is one great fabrication becomes lost in the overwhelming flood of the spam messages. The victim can no longer differentiate between what is truth and what is hype.

While such spamming is relatively unsophisticated, it is far more effective than people realize. Spamming victims with constant ads and convincing messages has been known to make otherwise sane and intelligent people spend upwards of one hundred dollars on cheap and useless trinkets worth less than ninety-nine cents. Salesladies, fashion magazines, and other identity thieves have been known to spam customers into buying overpriced clothing and accessories that often don’t even look good on the buyer. The victim will purchase something that plays up her flaws or makes her look like a mindless clone, simply because she was spammed into believing that this look is her identity when it is clearly not.

Phishing

Phishing is far more dangerous than spam. A “phisher” pretends to be someone they are not, thus allowing them to gain the victim’s trust and, in that position, to steal his identity. “Phishers” often impersonate reputable banks, credit card companies, or even respected charity organizations. In this guise, they convince their victims to share their most private financial and personal information and then use it to their own nefarious ends.

Sophisticated phishing has entered newer markets as well. Phishers not only impersonate reputable societies and charities, but may even pass themselves off as Torah-true courses or parenting/teaching seminars when they are anything but. Phishers utilize exact replicas of well-known company logos to carry out financial thefts, and they similarly utilize false claims of “hashgachos” or of “haskamos from gedolim” in perpetrating spiritual fraud. For example, a typical phishing attempt may conceal all sorts of unacceptable behavior behind a façade of “Do it to support a husband in learning.” The bait is false and a trap, laid simply to lure the victim into spending his or her money or joining the phisher’s desired cause.

Simple Theft

The third method used by identity thieves involves old-fashioned stealing, similar to someone grabbing your wallet or purse. Short of actually stealing a wallet, though, how does one actually “steal” an identity? What happens is that the perpetrator bullies the victim into identity submission. This form of theft usually targets the weaker and more vulnerable segments of society. Children are overwhelmingly the victims of this type of aggressive identity theft.

Such theft may involve messages and advertisements directly addressing these vulnerable and impressionable children. The thieves unscrupulously bypass the children’s parents, dangling prizes and freebees directly in their faces. Any and all means of persuasive or tantalizing bait are used to hook these poor kids into the thieves’ net. Direct mailings (from lists of children that may indeed have been illicitly obtained), as well as flyers and other sorts of ads that bypass a parent’s more cautioned approach, are used by the perpetrators. A person may do his utmost to keep his and his family’s identities safe from spammers and scammers, only to have his children robbed of their spiritual identities behind his back.

Victims of this sort of theft – children as young as six and seven – have been known to be filled with all sorts of ridiculous and unrealistic visions and notions of expensive and far-fetched prizes. The thieves aggressively appeal directly to them, shamelessly circumventing the parents, and then have the children nag and make their parents’ lives miserable until they comply with whatever the identity thieves desire for the children to engage in.

How to Protect Yourself

Forewarned is forearmed. Educating oneself about the dangers of identity theft and understanding how it works is the best defense against falling victim to these schemers and scammers.

Above all, be proactive. Filter the messages that reach you and your loved ones of as much spam and junk messaging as possible. The federal government has enacted strict rules governing spam e-mails and phone calls. Senders and callers are required to stop contacting consumers on request, and often may not even make unsolicited contact in the first place.

When it comes to spam received in the form of ads, circulars, and free junk magazines and periodicals arriving via regular mail or courier, local governments have stepped in to protect the consumer as well. These governments have organized something called “trash pickup.” Depending on where you live, trash pickup may occur once, twice, or even three times a week. Any and all spam can be inserted into special receptacles designed especially for trash, and sanitation trucks will then cart this trash away to special places where these things belong. The spam need never even enter your home!

Spam that comes in the form of verbal messages can be more subtle, more difficult to detect, and not as easy to do away with. Still, awareness is half the solution. Knowing when something is spam or phishing helps one disregard the messages and saves one of the attempt at stealing his or her identity.

In the end, remember who you are, know what you believe in, and don’t ever allow anybody to convince you otherwise. We didn’t fall for the Misyavnim in their time, and we need not fall for any of their modern-day manifestations either.

Article source: https://yated.com/identity-theft/

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PBSO deputy tied to $283000 identity-theft scam

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

If Felisma was given $10,000 a month for months by K.J., the complaint doesn’t suggest where most of that money went. “During the time period January 2013 (when the text messages between K.J. and Felisma began) and September 2014 (the last known tag run by Felisma for K.J.), agents confirmed that 22 separate cash deposits were made into Felisma’s Chase bank account, totaling $14,584.69,” the affidavit says.

Article source: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/crime--law/pbso-deputy-tied-283-000-identity-theft-scam/0nsEmDsnOTV1nUjL7EZjrN/

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Springfield Anchor Victim of Identity Theft | TVSpy – Adweek

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

Pettit

Springfield ABC affiliate KSPR reports morning anchor Melody Pettit was the victim of identity theft–the second anchor to fall victim in the same newsroom.

“They were using the exact pictures I had on my professional profile page, which was concerning,” said Pettit. “Who’s stealing my pictures? I don’t like it.” Someone had lifted pictures from Pettit’s Facebook page and used them to establish a fake profile page with Pettit’s name.

“It’s just kind of confusing because I didn’t know what their end-game was,” Pettit said. “What were they doing with my pictures? Were they trying to get money from someone? Were they trying to steal my information? I think, just not knowing what they were trying to do, was more concerning than knowing.”

Pettit’s co-anchor, Justin Corr, was also the victim of identity theft on Facebook, with someone using his image to create a fake profile under a similar-sounding name to propose to women in India.

Article source: http://www.adweek.com/tvspy/springfield-anchor-victim-of-identity-theft/183483

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Woman falsely claimed she was victim of ID theft: cops

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

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Article source: http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2016/12/27/woman-falsely-claimed-she-victim-identity-theft-cops/95877754/

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Major break in identity theft case of Bay Area mom – KGO

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

There is a big development in an identity theft case that 7 On Your Side helped to resolve. It began when a Bay Area mom found out someone was using a fake ID to steal all the money from her bank accounts.

RELATED: 7 On Your Side helps SF teacher fight bank in identity theft case

This case got such response because this mom was watching on her smartphone app as the thief withdrew more and more of her money. She couldn’t stop it. Now police have arrested a woman they believe was that thief.

It was a feeling of sheer helplessness for Mimi Murphy of San Francisco.

“A thief taking your money right in front of your eyes and there’s nothing you can do,” said Mimi.

It began when Mimi’s debit card didn’t work so she checked the bank app on her phone. Someone in Fresno had just withdrawn $3,500 from her savings account. The one set up for her little girl,

Peyton. Immediately she called Bank of America

“I was on hold for 43 minutes I believe,” said Mimi.

All the while, she watched on her phone as the thief wiped out her savings and checking accounts.

“There goes another $500, there goes another $32 there goes another $100,” said Mimi.

Finally the bank picked up her call.

“‘Hi, how can I help you?’ I said ‘please just freeze my account before we do anything,'” said Mimi.

Bank of America refunded all the money swiped from her savings, but not her checking account. Saying this surveillance photo could have been Mimi and only she could know her pin.

“Thankfully to your team it got resolved,” said Mimi.

7 On Your Side pointed out the thief had used a fake id to get a copy of Mimi’s debit card and change the pin number. B of A agreed, and refunded that money after all.

And now, a big break in the case.

“He called me up and said yup we found a driver’s license that had your name and address,” said Mimi.

Vacaville police acting on a tip found 27 fake ID’s in a local apartment. And, yes, they included this phony driver’s license with Mimi’s full name and address next to a photo of the suspected thief.

“My jaw just dropped when I saw it, cause I couldn’t believe I said this is the woman with my name on it was so violating,” said Mimi.

They also found several fraudulent credit cards including this one in Mimi’s name. Police arrested the suspect, identified as Kristina Wilson, who had been living in the apartment. She pleaded not guilty to four counts of identity theft and forgery.

“Relieved. I feel so relieved and I feel like hopefully this saved a lot of other people as well,” said Mimi.

Police say the phony ID’s were criminally manufactured – not altered driver’s licenses. As for the suspect, Kristina Wilson was released on $35,000 bail, and authorities said she failed to appear for a court hearing. A bench warrant is out for her arrest.

Article source: http://abc7news.com/news/major-break-in-identity-theft-case-of-bay-area-mom/1675388/

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