Local Man Is One Of Hundreds Of Identity Theft Victims

CENTRAL OHIO –
Identity thieves picked on the wrong guy when they stole a local man’s wallet, ripping him off for thousands of dollars.

The Department of Justice said two men indicted in the scheme filed fraudulent tax returns for 600 people, collecting at least $4 million.

NBC4 talked to one man who refused to be victimized.

From 1970 to 1995 Tom Applegate was a highly sought-after private investigator — until COPD and other ailments starting in 1993 landed him on Social Security disability. Then Applegate said he lost his wallet.

“They got my check debit cards with Chase Bank and Direct Express card used for my Social Security retirement,” said Applegate.

According to the DOJ, from January through December 2013, the defendants filed fictitious tax returns, opened bank accounts and gained millions from the stolen identities of Applegate and others in Delaware, New Jersey, Ohio and elsewhere. Applegate said he called the IRS, FBI, Columbus police and the Postal Service and for a time said he got nowhere. He said he explained his disability and tax-exemption to the IRS, but they continued to send him notices that his tax return was being held pending an investigation.

“I am on disability I do not pay those taxes anymore,” he said.

But the IRS insisted he owned interest on refunds.

Applegate said the government and the thieves under-estimated him.

“To say they tripped over the wrong identity is an understatement,” Applegate said.

The DOJ said James Ekeke, 26, of Smyrna, Georgia, was indicted by a federal grand jury with false claims conspiracy, aiding and abettingĀ  access device fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. His co-conspirator Festus Frimpong pleaded guilty to false claims conspiracy and access device fraud. Frimpong will be sentenced October 20, for stealing those identities.

Applegate gets the chance to tell his story inĀ  the Delaware State federal court.

“I have felt it for every inch, minute and second since my identity has been stolen and I am still feeling it today because no law enforcement agency has repaired it,” said Applegate.

There is no way to tell how much Applegate may have played in this investigation, but a U.S. attorney hinted at it.

“Yeah, we had a red flag thrown out onto the field in Ohio – we don’t know who did it,” Applegate said.

Article source: http://www.nbc4i.com/story/26499722/local-man-is-one-of-hundreds-of-identity-theft-victims

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