Archive for August, 2009

Ben Bernanke Finds Himself an ID Theft Victim

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Federal Chairman Ben Bernanke, the man that is in charge of the nation’s money supply, has found even he is not impervious to an identity theft. A thief stole his wife’s handbag right off the back of her chair while she sat in the lobby of a Starbucks. The thief made out with the family checkbook, credit cards, some cash, and her identification.

The Federal Reserve Board chairman, Ben Bernanke, and his wife did take steps to prevent their identity theft after their theft in August of 2008. During the investigation of the matter police discovered that they were dealing with a much bigger operation than expected.

Mr. Bernanke and his wife were one of 500 separate instances of fraud that have been traced back to one crime ring. The longer investigators looked into the case the wider the case got. 22 people are apart of the indictment all of which are suspected to be apart of the Bernanke identity theft.

The thieves are being charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud among other things. This just proves that even if you are good with money and think you know how to manage it you can still become a victim of identity theft. Mr. Bernanke most likely did everything in his power to protect himself and his wife.

There are just to many ways an identity thief can take advantage of the system to get what they want. Apparently these 22 people have done it hundreds of times and to many people. It will feel good to see them get what they disserve.

Criminal ID theft: Victim spends week in Cook County jail for perp’s crime

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

When Darrius Whitehorn was arrested as a robbery suspect last week, he spent a week in jail and became a poster child for criminal identity theft.

Most people think of ID theft as a crime with only financial ramifications, but—though criminal ID theft can also cost big bucks—the damage it wreaks on its victims can be even more serious.

Soon after Whitehorn, 27, was arrested by Chicago police officers they determined he wasn’t involved in the robbery, but they discovered an arrest warrant with his name, birth date and the Social Security number for a separate robbery in Hammond, Indiana.

Whitehorn and his parents knew there had been a terrible mistake and spent the week begging the police and sheriff’s departments to release their son. They couldn’t explain the warrant in their son’s name, but knew their son—a criminal justice student at Loyola University– wasn’t a criminal.

A week later the police were able to provide the explanation: Kirk Davis, a convicted robber and a friend of Whitehorn’s older brother, had usurped Whitehorn’s identity. Fingerprint evidence and a photo lineup linked Davis to another robbery committed in Hammond in February of last year, and cleared Whitehorn of the crime. Davis died in October.

“I would not wish this on my worst enemy,” Whitehorn said. “In class, they tell you that you’re innocent until proven guilty. But I felt I was guilty until proven innocent.”

Whitehorn missed a week of work and the first day of classes while he was in lock up, and his mother took a week off work to fight for her son’s freedom.

“I didn’t want to go back to work until he was out of this hellhole,” his mother, Marie Latham said.

Cell Phone Carrier Identity Theft 20 Million in Damages

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Eight defendants were arraigned in a Brooklyn court on August 19th for allegedly stealing the identities of AT&T, T-Mobile and Asurion customers. They then used the information to obtain $22 million in wireless equipment and service. Wondering how they did it? So was I!

According to the indictment between February 2005 and July 2009 Beizem, an owner of Got Wireless, has a former authorized dealer for AT&T and T-Mobile. He Obtained dealer access codes to AT&T and T-mobile customer databases. Stewart, the owner of KP Wireless, an authorized T-Mobile wireless device dealer did the same thing and gained access to the T-mobile customer database.

Once they had access to the database these two with the help of others assumed the identities of AT&T, T-Mobile, and Asurion customers. The thieves would then add new lines to the customer’s accounts without their permission. They would request new devices for the new lines as well as place false claims of damaged or stolen devices. They then used the help of some FedEx and DHL drivers to redirect the packages into the hands of the thieves and mark them in the system as being delivered to the proper address.

The thieves then sold the devices to other people and when charges were incurred they were charged to the original customers accounts. Once the customer discovered the fraud and reported it the cell companies they had no choice but to absorb the cost of the phones and services.

Just another way someone can use your identity to steal from you. It seems this theft is only hurting the cell phone companies, but if you fail to pay the bill or don’t report the fraud fast enough it goes on your credit. Cleaning up that mark on your credit is no fun task.

Identity Theft Malware up 600 Percent

Friday, August 21st, 2009

Identity Theft Malware up 600 Percent in one Year

I keep trying to tell people that now a days you are more likely to get a virus that you don’t know you have than a virus you’re well aware of. The days of making a virus that just simply breaks your computer is pretty much over. Now a days hackers and virus writers want a way to make money with their viruses. According to Panda Security, a web security firm, malware that is designed to steal personal information allowing someone to steal your identity is up 600% in the last year.

According to Panda’s security research they have encountered more that 11 million new threats so far this year. Most of them, about 8 million, are Trojan viruses that are designed to be non-threatening. Most people don’t even know they have the virus. These viruses record login information to bank accounts and any other online account that may contain personal information. They then send the information out to a server controlled by the virus creator. Many times the information ends up on the black market and sold to the highest bidder.

Some think that the economic crisis is to blame for the increase. People need money and turn to evil practices to obtain it. The increase in websites selling information of this nature also has created a need for malware that gathers the information.

Panda Security estimates that 3% of people have already been victims of identity theft through the Internet. The best way to protect yourself is to install antivirus software and keep it up to date. If you don’t update the virus definitions you might as well not even have virus protection. Other than keeping your computer clean you can also enlist in identity theft protection services like Lifelock that will protect your identity incase someone gains access to your personal information and attempts to use it to apply for credit.

2.8 Million in Damages in Identity Theft Case

Sunday, August 16th, 2009
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Gene Anthony Franklin Jr., 34, who tried to fee to Mexico was convicted of 46 felony counts and faces up to 73 years in prison. Franklin posed as a legitimate real-estate investor to gain access to fellow investors private information.  He then used 12 different identities to buy a house, obtain credit cards, and pay his bills.

The crime doesn’t stop here.  While in jail for his identity theft Franklin used the information of a fellow inmate, Marvin Vernis Smith, to transfer property from Smith’s name to an ex-girlfriend. He then used the houses as collateral to make his 1 million bail.

This is when he fled to Mexico in hopes of leaving his identity theft trial behind. He was caught and brought back to California for the trial, where he was convicted of 46 felony counts including several identity theft-related charges as well as grand theft, conspiracy and forgery counts.

Franklin is scheduled to be sentenced on June 19th and according to the prosecutors he faces up to 72 years in prison for his crimes. In all his crimes racked up 2.8 million in damages.

Would you trust this guy with your real estate investments?

Frederick Eugene Wood’s cautionary tale of needle-sharing, file-sharing, LimeWire and ID theft

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Frederick Eugene Wood’s story is a cautionary tale. Never use methamphetamine. Never share needles or engage in unprotected sex. Use caution when making purchases from Craigslist. And–in light of his sentencing this week on ID theft charges–beware of peer-to-peer file-sharing software.

Wood’s elaborate identity theft scam started with Craigslist ad for computers. When prospective buyers responded to his ad, Wood, 34, used LimeWire file-sharing software to access bank, credit card and tax return files on their computers.

To delay detection, Wood met with the buyers to deliver what were ostensibly the promised computers, but were actually computer boxes full of stuff like rocks or books to give them the appropriate heft.

When he was arrested, his computer contained personal and financial files belonging to more than 120 people; his wallet held eight driver’s licenses bearing Wood’s photo, but each having different names, addresses and birth dates. His victims hailed from New York, Massachusetts, Georgia, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Louisiana, Oregon and California.

“One thing I wish more than anything else is that I could look the victims in the face and apologize to them to their faces,” Wood said at his sentencing hearing.

Addicted to methamphetamine and infected with HIV/AIDS, Woods told U.S. District Judge James Robart he was optimistic the compulsory drug treatment he’ll undergo in prison would restore him to a productive member of society.

Robart wasn’t very optimistic, citing Wood’s history of manipulation and his three failed drug rehab attempts, and sentenced him to 39 months.

Commuter ID Theft – When Selling a Car be Aware

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Commuter Identity theft isn’t like traditional identity theft where your credit is on the line, but can be just as bad if not worse. Commuter identity theft is where you sell a car to someone and they fail to transfer the car into their name. This doesn’t sound that bad except people are then not responsible for the vehicle. If they leave it parked illegally or commit a crime with it the registration is still under your name. You are held for all tickets that are associated to the vehicle unless you can prove you sold the vehicle.

Laura Hurst learned this first hand when she sold an old van that didn’t run to a stranger. They didn’t keep a copy of the paperwork for themselves so couldn’t prove they sold the vehicle. The man they sold it to told them he was a scrapper and was going to sell it for parts. Well that is not what happened. He ended up fixing it and selling to someone else who got parking tickets that they never intended on paying for them.

Laura and her husband got stuck with the bill. When they tried to inform the courts they had sold the vehicle the courts asked for proof. They of course said they had no proof because they didn’t keep a copy of the bill of sale.

The moral of this story is to always require the new owner of the car to register the car in their name. If they don’t want to go to the registration office with you or they live in a different state you can always get a temporary tag for the car, which will force the new owner to get a registration when it expires. And perhaps most importantly get a copy of the bill of sale and all documents associated with the selling of the car. These documents will prove helpful when it comes time to prove you sold the car.

Armed Forces and Identity Theft

Friday, August 7th, 2009

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They protect our homes and our borders. They protect our right to live in a free country and live our lives as we see fit. So why is it there are so many identity thefts and security breaches related to the armed forces. I have read many identity theft stories involving the armed forces some involving ex-military who stole the identities of people they worked with.

One of the latest stories I’m aware of happened in Georgia where a group of people somehow gained access to a secured members roster of the 80th Aerial Port Squadron. They then used the roster to steal 20 airmen’s identities. Police believe the identity thefts have resulted in more than $50,000 in damages.

Police have already arrested Kenyatta Willis and Stacey Walker concerning the case but are still after Dianne Walker, Taneshia Walker, and Ebony Walker. The question that I want to ask is how they got their little hands on that roster? Was it an inside job? Did someone from the inside sell them the list? There were 131,000 soldiers on that roster, which makes this no small list. It’s not something that can just slip into the garbage or float through the air and into the hands of people willing to do evil.

Yet another story I heard this morning was about a laptop theft that has endangered more that 130,000 members of the National Guard. The laptop was owned by an Army Nation Guard contractor. The laptop had the names, Social Security numbers, and other information that could lead to identity thefts. All the soldiers who’s information was on the laptop have been informed to take action in protect their identities.

I wonder if the information on the laptop was encrypted or not. I don’t understand why you need to carry around that many names and private information around with you. If you must the least you could do is protect it by encrypting the information.

It seems the government needs to tighten up the security of its soldier’s records so the only thing the soldiers have to worry about it protecting our country and not their credit.

Stupid criminal story: ID thief leaves wallet full of fake IDs at grocery story

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

A lost wallet is one of the most common sources of information for identity thieves. But, in this classic stupid criminal story, a wallet left behind at a grocery store resulted in what a federal judge called one of the most extensive identification fraud cases in his career.

Jade Ingalls, 29, did a little shopping at a Pensacola Winn Dixie grocery store back in February, and tried to pay with a check. Maybe he got flustered when his check was refused, but for whatever reason, he left his wallet behind when he left the store.

A store employee looking for contact information in the wallet found five IDs, all bearing Ingalls’ photo, but each bearing a different name. Time to call in the Sheriff’s Office. (more…)

Tom Lesh Victim of ID Theft for almost 40 Years

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

Tom Lesh, 66, is celebrating the end of an identity theft battle that lasted for almost 40 years. The strange thing about this identity theft story is that Tom Lesh knew since the 1970’s that the friend of his brother, Clark Mower, stole his identity. Until now the police had been unable to track Mower down.

Clark Mower and Tom’s brother were drunk one night and Mower was talking about how he needed a new identity to avoid a drunk driving charge. Tom’s brother assumable gave Mower Tom’s personal information in order to beat the DUI charge. Tom’s brother didn’t know that Mower had gone through with the scam, but Tom found out soon enough that Mower was using his ID for work reasons.

Clark Mower did plenty of damage to Tom’s credit over the years. Racking up $139,000 in debts in Lesh’s name. Tom’s id thief had $10,000 in unpaid back taxes and after a long process of providing the IRS with documentation, the IRS finally accepted that he didn’t own anything.

Clark Mower was finally arrested when he received medical treatment in Tom’s name. When Tom said it wasn’t him the Premera Blue Cross insurance fraud investigator named Sandy Larson forwarded the case to the Social Security Administration’s Office where Matt Lavelle took over the case. Lavelle tracked down the 58 year-old trucker and arrested him outside his Seattle home. This brought the 40 year long ID theft to a close.