Archive for the ‘Internet Identity Theft’ Category

Aurora identity theft suspect denies stealing friend’s identity to buy commercial lawnmower

Friday, August 18th, 2017

Eighteen months after a judge issued a warrant for Heather Legner on identity theft charges, the 38-year-old with Aurora ties has pleaded not guilty, court records show.

Kane County prosecutors allege Legner used a friend’s birth date and social security number in 2014 to, among other things, open credit card accounts and obtain a Nissan SUV, records show. Held on $100,000 bail, Legner denied a six-count indictment issued in November that included registration forgery and identity theft during an Aug. 9 hearing. She is scheduled to return to court Sept. 6 before Judge John Barsanti.

Aurora police and prosecutors initially secured an arrest warrant for Legner in February 2016 after an investigation revealed she allegedly used the friend’s information to finance a commercial lawn mower in addition to running up thousands of dollars on credit cards. Legner has also been investigated, but not charged, in connection with aggravated identity theft and financial exploitation of an elderly person allegations involving an 89-year-old man she befriended in 2011 while she was on parole, according to court documents.

Legner has served time in Illinois prisons on at least three occasions since 2005 for theft and fraud convictions. The Kane County case was on hold while Legner served time in an Arizona prison before she was returned to Illinois in June.

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Former Bank Vice President Guilty Of Identity Theft And Fraud

Friday, August 18th, 2017

Eastern District of VirginiaA former banking executive pleaded guilty today to a fraud and identity theft scheme that caused over $3 million in losses.

According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, Kirk Russel Marsh, 39, of Oakton, was a former vice president at Virginia Commerce Bank and later at Fulton Bank. Virginia Commerce Bank and Fulton Bank’s parent company, Fulton Financial Corporation, received $71 million and $376.5 million, respectively, in Troubled Asset Relief Program funds from the United States Treasury. At VCB, Marsh forged the signatures of senior bank officers to cause the fraudulent issuance of over $1.25 million in loans to small businesses. At Fulton Bank, Marsh used the name and personal identifying information of a former client to fraudulently apply for and obtain a $1 million line of credit, which he used to purchase another client’s software company, Wave Software, and make the down payment on his house. Marsh also made unauthorized draws on a $485,000 line of credit of another client, which he used to pay Wave Software operating expenses. After being fired by Fulton Bank, and while purportedly cooperating with the United States, Marsh pretended to buy a company that sold beauty products, Revive You Media. He then requested real financial information as part of purported due diligence. Marsh used that financial information to hold himself out as the owner of Revive You Media and seek financing. As part of those attempts to secure financing, Marsh also used the identities of other former clients and family members. The attempted loss is over $10 million.

Marsh pleaded guilty to wire fraud, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft. He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison when sentenced on November 17. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Christy Goldsmith Romero, Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and Andrew W. Vale, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Wong is prosecuting the case.

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COLUMN-New Medicare cards a lone bright spot in identity-theft …

Friday, August 18th, 2017

(The opinions expressed here are those of the author, a columnist for Reuters.)

By Mark Miller

CHICAGO, Aug 17 (Reuters) – Older Americans are especially vulnerable to scams and identity theft, and Medicare is doing something about it. U.S. seniors will start receiving new identification cards next year as part of an effort to protect them from the rising risk of fraud.

But that is the only good news surrounding a sweeping federal initiative to bolster fraud defenses by reducing the widespread use of Social Security numbers as identifiers throughout the government.

Medicare cards use an identifier called the Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) – but right now it is the same as your Social Security number. Starting in April 2018, the Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services (CMS) will be mailing new cards to enrollees that use a unique, randomly assigned number.

The swap follows 2015 legislation that required CMS to stop using Social Security numbers by April 2019. But a broader effort to weed out Social Security numbers by government agencies is lagging, according to a report issued last month by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). The federal government has been working on the problem for more than a decade, but a morass of regulatory and technological issues have stymied progress.

To be fair, the problem is massive. GAO lists 24 federal agencies that use Social Security numbers in one way or another. Medicare cards were an egregious example, since seniors are especially vulnerable to identity theft. Yet CMS collects Social Security numbers from roughly 57.7 million Americans and displays them on Medicare cards.

“It’s a sobering problem,” said Cristina Martin Firvida, director of financial security at AARP. “The number of people on Medicare who hold Social Security numbers makes this a really daunting challenge.”

Medicare already has stopped using HICNs in the Medicare Summary Notices that are mailed to beneficiaries quarterly – a practice that left open the possibility of theft when mail is delivered incorrectly or stolen. The transition on Medicare cards will be automatic – recipients will be mailed new cards that utilize a unique, randomly assigned number called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier.

Phone Scammers Dial in

Scammers reportedly are already trying to take advantage of the transition. AARP reports that some Medicare recipients have received calls from thieves telling them that they need to pay for their new Medicare cards and asking for personal information such as checking account and Medicare numbers.

A similar scam now making the rounds involves callers posing as government employees asking for personal data in order to confirm eligibility for the annual Social Security cost-of-living adjustment.

Medicare does not contact enrollees for Medicare numbers or other personal information, unless you have granted permission in advance. The only time you might receive a legitimate phone call from Medicare is if you have given CMS permission to call in advance; also, Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plans may call if you already are a member of that plan. You also might get a call from Medicare if you have left a message requesting a call-back. More information on preventing Medicare fraud can be found at the CMS website: ( The SSA does sometimes call beneficiaries for customer service purposes, but representatives never ask for personal information.

If you are not certain that a call from Medicare or Social Security is legitimate, simply hang up and call the agency back on the customer service lines: (800) 633-4227 or (800) 772-1213 for Social Security.

Meanwhile, hackers already have demonstrated their ability to do massive damage. In 2015, a break-in at the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) led to theft of sensitive personal data of roughly 4 million federal employees.

Martin Firvida worries about the damage that could occur if the SSA were hacked. “We’re very focused on whether the SSA is prepared for a hack – we’re very aware of how dramatic it would be if something like the OPM hack occurred at the SSA.”

The SSA has been taking steps to modernize its technology. And last year the agency moved to bolster its public website security by adding a mandatory extra layer of website log-on steps that required customers to receive a code via text message. That effort stalled when critics noted, correctly, that many older Americans do not use text messaging. In June, the SSA rolled out a revised plan that requires online users to receive a one-time text or email message to log on.

The new Medicare cards are still months away from delivery. In the meantime, AARP advises seniors not to carry their cards with them. Most of the time, that is not necessary since healthcare providers usually have their patients in their electronic systems and know how to bill them. Another idea is to make a photocopy of your card and scratch out all but the last four digits.

AARP offers a fraud prevention resource website ( that suggests strategies for protecting yourself from identity fraud. (Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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Advice offered for identity theft victims

Friday, August 18th, 2017

Someone in this country is the victim of identity theft each day. 

According to the 2017 Identity Fraud Study conducted by Javelin Strategy and Research, $16 billion was stolen from 15.4 billion Americans in 2016, including with 15.8 percent of it done through credit card fraud.

According to Mike Stovsky, partner and chair of innovation, information technology and intellectual property at Benesch Attorneys at Law in Cleveland, the commonality of identity theft depends on what led to the theft and what kind of theft the victim suffers from. 

“If we’re talking about a data security breach, they are most likely going to get a notice by whomever got breached,” he said. “That notice will spell out what actions they should take in order to protect themselves.”

Stovsky said that those actions are pretty standard – like monitoring your credit report, making sure there are no unauthorized activities on your bank or credit cards and putting fraud notices on the victims’ account, though he said that these are things any consumer should be doing regularly anyways.

“I would also take it a step further, and the notice might not even say this, but I would recommend that you put a security freeze on your credit reports,” he said. “A security freeze is one step beyond that and prevents anyone from accessing your credit. Most of the damage that can be done to your identity when it’s stolen is to your credit and financial standing. I recommend that people do those security freezes all the time because by the time you notice something out of place, it’s too late.”

Stovsky noted identity theft doesn’t always have to be so formal and can happen at any point of sale – even more commonly online. We buy things online all the time and use our credit cards at the mall and restaurants. 

“There are many things that lead to identity theft all of the time and some of those things will never lead to a formal report,” he said. “If you believe you’ve suffered identity theft when you notice unusual charges, those same steps apply. I also would never use a debit card as a credit card. Whenever someone is finding unauthorized purchases, it’s because they are using their debit card at a point of sale register.”

As for how often identity theft takes place, Stovsky said it usually occurs when a consumer information breach happens as opposed to an isolated incident. 

“As a law firm, we tend to handle large data breaches and our experience has been that the amount of identity theft that typically results from a breach isn’t that high, unless it’s a consumer breach,” he said. “What people don’t know, data breaches don’t tend to be consumer ones. They are everyday businesses and their employee data is taken.”

Stovsky said when consumer breaches happen, it is typically in the health care sphere. 

“Health care data is the most valuable data on the black market,” he said. “Credit cards have a limited value because most times, you can shut them down quickly. Health insurance values go much higher.”

Because of the birth and growing popularity of the internet and our constant access to data, Stovsky said he thinks the commonality of identity theft and scam calls have risen and will continue to rise. 

“We have a lot more personal data now than we’ve ever had before,” he said. “The amount of data that can be stolen is exponentially higher than it was when the internet first began.

“At the same time, the laws and regulations that companies have to follow have increased as well. We have a lot more security and laws in place to protect your data. But, it’s a moving target because hackers continue to grow and excel as well. It’s a cat-and-mouse game, protecting your sensitive data.”

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Former beauty queen on parole following identity theft indicted on …

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

A former beauty queen involved in one of the largest identity theft cases in state history is back behind bars.

Susan Shaw was indicted by a grand jury Tuesday on charges of computer fraud in the third degree and fraudulent use of a credit card.

The offenses allegedly occurred between Jan. 16 and May 18 of this year.

According to the indictment, the first count relates to “the access and use of a computer, to wit a ‘point of sale computer terminal,’ with intent (to) commit theft of money valued in excess of $250.00, and the defendant did, in fact, so obtain money valued in excess of $250.00.”

The second count relates to “the use of credit card numbers, without the cardholders’ consent, for the purpose of obtaining money valued in excess of $300.00 during the time specified herein, a period of less than six months, and the defendant did, in fact, so obtain money valued in excess of $300.00.”

In 2011, Shaw was sentenced to 20 years in prison in one of the largest white-collar criminal investigations in state history.

She pleaded guilty to 140 counts of identity theft, money laundering, and forgery.

In that case, prosecutors said she had more than 50 victims and stole more than $200,000 after accessing personal information from a database.

Shaw was placed on extended furlough on Nov. 15, 2016, and released on parole on May 17, 2017.

State sheriffs took her to Oahu Community Correctional Center at around noon Wednesday.

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Protecting Consumers From Identity Theft

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

In order to work with customers, businesses need to collect information from them to process orders. For instance, if you’re shipping a product then you need to know the mailing address. Companies often keep this information after an order for many reasons, including expediting future orders or for marketing purposes. But in the wrong hands, that information can be used to commit identity theft.

If a company allows personal information leak, that’s bad news. It’s not just bad for consumers, but companies can also get punished by the FTC.  What can you do to reduce the chances of identity theft while still getting the information you need? The FTC has outlined five steps to follow.

Take Stock

First, you need to know what information you have on your customers right now and where it is stored. You also need to know how your company receives personal information and what kinds of information are collected at each point of contact. Finally, you need to know who has access to the information and why.

This can be trickier than you think. Laptops, mobile devices, flash drives, copiers, even home computers could all contain sensitive information. Information can be gathered directly by the company or by a third-party. Sales and Marketing may have one set of data, while Customer Service has another. All of this information needs to be inventoried.

Scale Down

If there isn’t a legitimate business need to keep a piece of data on a customer, don’t keep it. Better still, don’t ask for it in the first place. The more information you collect, the more you have to protect and the easier it is for a hacker to use that information to create a customer profile strong enough to commit identity theft. Employees should only have access to the consumer information they need to complete their jobs and no more. Also, be sure that external data-collecting applications, like a website or a mobile app, follow these rules.

The less information you have, the easier it is to protect. If you must keep sensitive information, you will need to create a privacy policy and a data-retention policy.

Protect It
Once you have the information you need, it must be protected. You must consider four elements:

• Physical security of information
• Digital security of information
• Employee training on the handling of information
• Understanding the security practices of contractors and service providers

If any one of these four is weak that is a route for information to get stolen. These are complex subjects, but the FTC has a good overview of what to consider for each of them on their website. Digital security is the most likely route for identity theft. Even a small business is at risk and should take precautions.

Trash It

Quite simply, if the information is no longer needed then it must be deleted. But it must be done properly. An unbroken CD with information found in a trash can or a pile of credit card transactions in a bag is pay dirt for an information thief. Papers must be shredded and digital media securely erased to prevent information theft. Employees must also follow these procedures for anything they take home as part of their work duties.

Plan For It

No plan for information security is perfect. Information thieves keep coming up with new ways to get information and they only need to succeed once. That’s why you must also create a plan on how to handle breaches if one is detected. At a minimum, the plan needs to identify the breach, close the breach, document what happened, notify any affected customers or agencies, and come up with a solution to prevent that attack from working in the future. Having a current plan on file and following it can help reduce the hit to a company’s reputation if data is stolen.

David McKenzie, lawyer and founder of McKenzie Law Firm states, “Identity theft is a very popular way of committing white-collar crimes. Unfortunately, our personal information is also very valuable to companies and advertisers who want to sell things to us. Companies have to guard this information carefully to prevent it from getting into the wrong hands.” Follow these steps and you’ll go a long way to doing just that.

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One-man identity theft crime spree suspect indicted again

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A federal grand jury returned a 10-count indictment that charged a Central Falls man in connection with an identity theft scheme that involved using the names of more than a half dozen people from at least nine states to buy tens of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise and services.

Reynaldo Martinez, 25, was arrested in May at his apartment in Central Falls that court documents indicated was filled with some of the stolen goods.

Martinez faces four counts of aggravated identity theft, two counts of access fraud and one count each of bank fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, attempted access fraud and interstate transportation of stolen goods according to acting Rhode Island United States Attorney Stephen G. Dambruch.

A federal grand jury first returned an indictment tied to the alleged spree on June 20, and that was followed by what is known as a superseding indictment, returned Tuesday.

The June indictment alleged Martinez bought “identification information” of at least six people from someone who lived in Rhode Island and shopped at several stores, including a Best Buy in Warwick, a Kohl’s in Seekonk, a Saks Fifth Avenue in Boston and a Verizon in Mansfield, Massachusetts.

He is also accused of spending thousands on furniture at a Cardi’s Furniture and a Raymour and Flanigan.

According to court documents, Martinez “bragged to [federal Secret Service] agents,” saying in some cases he sold the furniture to “drug dealers in the Providence area.”

Martinez also allegedly used his own aliases, including the names Lamar Johnson and Chunky Martines.

One of the last stops on the eight-community crime spree was in early May at the Seekonk Kohl’s, where investigators allege Martinez used a Connecticut man’s driver’s license and credit card to buy a pair of watches.

By then, the feds were on Martinez’s trail, matching pictures on Rhode Island’s Most Wanted with surveillance video from several stores.

A search warrant affidavit for a laptop confiscated at the Martinez’s apartment, indicated he “admitted to investigators” that he has been involved with “identity theft” since he was released from a two-year sentence for identity theft.

The alleged crimes that prompted the 2017 indictments covered about a year, from June 2016 to May 2017.

Martinez is currently locked up at the Wyatt Detention Center, and the investigation is said to be continuing.

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau

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Hudson Valley Man Jailed for Aggravated Identity Theft and Passport Fraud

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

A Hudson Valley man is heading to prison for assuming another person’s identity in order to obtain a U.S. passport.


On Monday, John Staccio, 68, of Saugerties was sentenced to 25 months in prison, a $500 fine and a $200 special assessment for aggravated identity theft and passport fraud.

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As part of his October 12, 2016 guilty plea, Staccio admitted that in 1990 and in 2011 he applied for and received a United States passport using the name, date of birth, and social security number of another person, without that person’s knowledge or consent.

Staccio used the passport and resided abroad for approximately 25 years until he was apprehended in 2016, officials say.

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KC woman wanted rent-free living; federal judge granted her wish

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

A Kansas City woman lied and conned her way into rent-free living for four years.

Now, a federal judge has ensured that Twyla Lashelle Adair won’t be having to pay rent for another long stint.

Adair, 41, was sentenced Tuesday to four years and six months in prison for using stolen Social Security numbers to defraud several landlords in the Kansas City area.

Beginning in 2012, Adair used the Social Security numbers of four different people to apply for apartments.

She would live for almost a year in each one before abandoning it and leaving behind a large amount of unpaid rent. She would then move into another apartment using another Social Security number to repeat the process, according to federal court documents.

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Previously deported Canadian sentenced to prison for identity theft

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

Jewel Browe 

CHARLEVOIX COUNTY, MI — A Canadian woman will serve at least three years in prison after she was convicted of stealing a Charlevoix woman’s identity for the second time in four years. 

Jewel Elizabeth Browe, 65, was sentenced Friday, Aug. 11, to 38 months to 15 years in prison. The order was made by Circuit Judge Roy C. Hayes III in Charlevoix County Circuit Court. 

Browe was charged with her third offense of identity theft after police pulled her over on Feb. 18, 2016, for a traffic violation. The woman gave officers a driver’s license containing information belonging to a Charlevoix County resident, according to Charlevoix County Prosecutor Allen Telgenhof. 

Telgenhof said Browe had been deported on numerous occasions, which is why she did not provide her own identification to police. 

Browe failed to appear in court for the traffic ticket, which resulted in the local woman’s license being suspended. The same woman’s identity was used to order cable service in Bangor.

The Charlevoix woman took Browe into her home in 2012 and Browe stole personal items with the woman’s identifying information, Telgenhof said. 

In 2013, Browe was sentenced to 20 months to five years in prison for two counts of identity theft, but was released early after completing the Department of Corrections’ Special Alternative Incarceration boot camp program, according to Telgenhof. 

“Both cases came about through the hard work of Charlevoix County Detective Mike Wheat,” Telgenhof said. “Hopefully this defendant will realize that she needs to stop victimizing people. At least she will not be able to do that over the next three years while she is in prison.”

Browe is serving her sentence at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti. 

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