Archive for November, 2008

Sex offender pleads guilty to ID theft, gun possession, mail theft

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Michael Christopher Mills, a registered sex offender and would-be stunt car driver, pleaded guilty yesterday to charges of mail theft, aggravated identity theft and being a felon in possession of handgun.

Mills, 38, will return to the U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Virginia for sentencing February 20, 2009. If convicted, he could be sentenced to as much as 17 years in prison and $750,000 in fines.

Chesapeake police arrested Mills September 9 after a high-speed chase and his unsuccessful James Bond-like attempt to jump the open Gilmerton Bridge. The failed stunt landed him in the Elizabeth River, where a private boater then rescued him.

When police searched another car Mills had driven, they discovered at least 75 pieces of stolen mail, fake IDs printed with Mills’ photo and the identity theft victims’ personal information, two boxes of stolen checks from another person’s bank account and a .38-caliber Smith and Wesson, according to federal court documents.

Most of the mail was reported as having been stolen from local residents’ mailboxes, but Mills is also known to have burglarized at least one home.

According to Virginia’s online sex offender registry, Mills was convicted in 1993 of carnal knowledge of a child between the ages of 13 and 15.

Let LifeLock protect your identity this holiday season

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

While you’re doing your holiday shopping, make sure you’re not putting anything special under the tree for identity thieves. Whether you see them or not, they’re just waiting for an opportunity like kids lined up for Santa’s lap.

Here’s how it happens:

You’re waiting in line at the register with eight or nine other people. Everyone’s overheated, overburdened, overspending and maybe a wee bit grumpy and impatient. When it’s finally your turn to check out, all you’re thinking of getting it over with and getting out of the store. What you’re not thinking about is the guy behind you who’s reaching inside your open purse.

Or, you’re taking a break from shopping in the mall food court. It’s hot, it’s loud and it takes forever to find an available table. Once you find one, you set your tray down on the table, and set your purse in the empty chair. Then you stash your five bags with 27 pounds of gifts under the table where no one can steal them. While you’re doing that, someone has lifted your purse.

Or, you’re finally able to find the time to get together with friends at a favorite restaurant. You enjoy a long, leisurely dinner with lots of laughter and a little wine. The food was delicious and the waiter was attentive. When you get the check, you hand over your credit card and do a silent calculation of the generous tip you’re going to give him. What you don’t know is that he’s doing a little calculating too. He’s got a matchbox-sized card skimmer in his pocket, and has just discreetly recorded all of your credit card information.

Identity theft is a terrible thing to go through at any time of the year. But becoming an identity theft victim during the holiday is disastrous. Now, more than ever, you need LifeLock identity theft protection.

Citibank employees part of identity theft ring

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Dallas identity theft ringleader Keasha Antoinette Turner was sentenced to six years in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $100,000 in restitution.

Turner worked with two Citibank employees as accomplices. Andrea Renee Harris and Christianna M. Wright, who worked in Citibank’s customer service and collections department, shared their access to account information with Turner. Turner used that information to receive Visa and MasterCard credit cards and make fraudulent purchases.

Turner pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud in August. Harris was sentenced to 18 months in prison, and ordered to restitution in the amount of $11,812 after her guilty plea to a bank fraud charge. Wright received a 34-month sentence, and must pay $51,312 in restitution.

The case was investigated by the US Secret Service and prosecuted by Assistant US Attorney David Jarvis.

Senior US District Judge A. Joe Fish said before sentencing Turner that she had been involved in ID theft and fraud for many years causing significant pain and stress for her victims.

Car salesman, hospital employees and credit card companies—we give our personal and financial information out all the time to total strangers. We have to.

But how can you protect yourself from identity theft and credit card fraud? Truthfully, there isn’t much you can do, but LifeLock can sure help you protect yourself and your family.

LifeLock is the industry leader in identity theft protection services. Visit their website at LifeLock.com to see why their innovative and comprehensive program has been the choice for nearly 1.5 million consumers.

Senior citizens and ID theft

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Senior citizens represent roughly 20% of all identity theft victims, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Senior citizens control more wealth than members of any other age group; more of then have homes that are paid off, and their other investments have been accumulating longer. Without children to provide for, they’re able to preserve more of their assets. (more…)

US Secret Service teams with Baton Rouge law enforcement to arrest identity thief

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Could it happen that after committing so much identity theft and deception, the perpetrator completely loses track of who he is?

Rodney Roussell was arrested this week in Baton Rouge, LA after the US Secret Service and the East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputies spent months tracking him down.

When Rousell was arrested, investigators say they found an ID bearing his picture and someone else’s name; the same name was also found on six different credit cards.

Rousell’s cell phone was in one name; his apartment was in another. He uses yet another name as an entertainer, and his car was purchased using the Social Security number of an elderly woman from Texas. Besides all that, Rousell is a cross dresser, but was dressed as a man when he was arrested at a nightclub.

Some of Rousell’s stolen identities help him receive bank loans, and others were used to rack up roughly $90,000 in counterfeit check charges.

Rousell is also wanted on fraud and identity theft charges in Texas.

Identity thieves seldom limit themselves to just one victim, or even a single type of criminal behavior. Likewise, consumers need more than one plan of defense to protect themselves from identity theft.

Is it identity theft or existing account fraud?

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Here’s how a lot of people find out about it:

  • The waitress comes back with your credit card saying, “I’m sorry, sir, but your card was declined.”

or

  • The credit card statement says you owe a minimum payment that includes a $39 fee for exceeding your $6,000 credit limit by $376, but the last time you used that card the balance was only $452.

Sounds like identity theft, right? Wrong.

There’s a fine distinction between identity theft and existing account fraud. In the scenarios above, what has probably occurred is existing account fraud.

Here’s the difference: If someone uses your personal information—your name, Social Security number, etc—to open new credit card accounts, new utility accounts or take out new loans, then you’re a victim of identity theft. However, if someone obtains your credit card number and makes purchases on your account, you’re a victim of existing account fraud.

How does it happen? Look again at the first scenario described above. The meal was great, the service was terrific, and you’re planning to give the waitress a 25% tip. But when she walked away with your credit card, she ran it through a skimmer she carries in her apron pocket. Now she has everything she needs to make purchases on your credit card account.

It can also happen in the checkout line at the mall. Stores are crowded, and you’re already holding your credit card in your hand to hasten things along when you finally get to the register. You don’t think there’s anything strange about the guy in line behind you who’s standing so close. But, he’s standing where he is so he can memorize the numbers on your credit card.

Basic identity theft information, and why you need LifeLock

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Count out 10 seconds. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10. Five more people just became identity theft victims. With so many victims, so many criminals and so much loss, The US Department of Justice considers it a greater threat than even drug trafficking.

And, what if it happens to you? Expect to spend at least 400 hours trying to fix it. But you won’t take 10 weeks off work; you’ll try to clear things up before, during and after work. Expect it to take at least seven months, but don’t expect to ever be done with it.

Even after spending months or years trying to clean up the mess left after identity theft, identity theft victims say there is still a lingering residue in their lives—higher insurance rates, higher interest rates, higher credit rates. Victims also report having a hard time getting jobs because of their fouled credit records.

But the effects of ID theft aren’t limited to time and money. Identity theft victims report the same aftereffects as victims of domestic violence, rape or assault. They say they feel unsupported by friends, family and mates. They say their family lives suffered greatly increased stress levels, and attribute it to displaced anger and frustration. Divorces and ended relationships occur at higher rates after identity theft.

And these are the effects of financial identity theft. Imagine what life is like for victims of medical identity theft. If someone else uses your identity to obtain medical care, their blood type, drug allergies and medical conditions become part of your medical record, and can kill you.

At the very least, expect it to be nearly impossible to make your insurance company pay for a second appendectomy if a medical identity thief has already had his appendix removed while posing as you.

Even before drivers were required to carry auto insurance, millions of people paid for the protection. Nobody has to carry identity theft protection, but millions of people do it. In fact, almost 1.5 million of them are LifeLock members. Visit LifeLock.com today to find out why. Enroll using the LifeLock promo code Defense and get the lowest price available.

Anderton to serve 5 years in federal prison for “Bonnie and Clyde” identity theft crimes

Monday, November 17th, 2008

Edward Anderton was “Clyde” to Jocelyn Kirsch’s “Bonnie.” He was her lover, her traveling companion and her partner in crime. And, before the new year is rung in, Anderton will be living in federal prison, just like Kirsch.

Anderton was sentenced last week to serve four years in federal prison for his part in the identity theft scam that netted roughly $120,000 for the pair. Kirsch received a prison sentence of five years last month.

Just like the criminal pair of the1930s captured the imagination of the nation, Kirsch and Anderton gained notoriety for stealing the identities of 50 friends, neighbors and coworkers. Photos of the two enjoying the fruits of their labors were viewed by millions on the Internet: here’s a photo of them kissing in front of the Eiffel Tower; here’s another of them on a beach in the Caribbean.

They broke into their victims’ mailboxes and burglarized their homes to finance those trips. When police searched their luxurious Philadelphia condo they found $18,000 in cash, dozens of fraudulent drivers’ licenses and credit cards, a lock-picking tool, software used in identity theft crimes and a machine for printing identification cards.

The original Bonnie and Clyde came from lives of poverty and committed their crimes in the Great Depression-era dustbowl of the central United States. Anderton was an up and coming financial analyst with an Ivy League education. Kirsch was a student at Drexel, a plastic surgeon’s daughter whose breasts and nose were “done” as gifts from her dad.

Ironically, Anderton and Kirsch had lives of privilege and fortune before their crime spree, and will now have to spend years in poverty. At his sentencing, Anderton was given 45 days to surrender to a federal prison, allowing him to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with his family, but forcing him to begin 2009 as a prison inmate. Kirsch was immediately remanded to a federal prison in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma—the center of the Dustbowl where Bonnie and Clyde committed their crimes.

UF Data Breach

Friday, November 14th, 2008

333,000 current and former dental patients of University of Florida had their information accessed in early October. The data breach was noticed on October third, but the college waited till now to release the information until they knew what the damage was and who would be affected by it. When the data breach was found the server was immediately disconnected from the network to prevent the intruder from accessing the data any further.

The Dean of the college of dentistry does not know why the intruder would want the files. So far there is not evidence that suggests the information has been used to steal anyone’s identity. Even though there is not evidence that the information has been used the college has sent out letters to the people affected by the data breach. The letter was meant to inform the victims of what happened and give them information on how to protect themselves from a possible identity theft.

The college of course takes this data breach very seriously and has taken steps to further strengthen their security measure to the server. The college said that there were 8,248 more patients on the server but they did not have recent addresses. By releasing the data beach to the public they hope it will track down the other potential victims.

Another university data breach. College students especially vulnerable to identity theft

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

Texas A&M University students’ personal information has been exposed in a data breach … again.

A student was surprised to discover the security lapse while searching the University website last week. A list of 1,430 admissions applicants was easily accessible, and revealed the applicants’ names and Social Security numbers.

The student became especially alarmed when she saw that her name and Social Security number was among those on the list. She immediately reported it to officials at the university.

“We take this very seriously and it is always disappointing when something like this happens,” A&M-Corpus Christi President Flavius Killebrew said Friday.

Apparently Killebrew has had a lot of disappointments recently.

In September of this year a hacker accessed one of the university’s servers and was able to see a document containing students’ Social Security numbers.

Two other data breaches occurred during the summer of last year. In June, a flash drive containing the Social Security numbers of 8,000 current and former A&M students. In July 2007 a class roster with the names and Social Security numbers was lost.

When they learned of the most recent data breach last week, officials shut down the website and removed the document, Killebrew said.

Letters notifying the 1,430 applicants involved in the most recent data breach were to be mailed out this week.

College students are particularly vulnerable to identity theft, not only because of data breaches, but because they are frequently among groups of strangers in classes and in their shared dorm rooms and apartments.