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The year in review dealing with Identity Theft, and a few you may have missed. Find out about identity theft crimes and criminals and the important lessons we can learn from them.
As the calendar pages quickly turn to the end of 2008, it is helpful to turn back the clock and take a look at identity theft crimes this year. While no one really wants to give any glory to identity thieves, it is helpful to consumers who want to protect their identities from identity theft to be informed about who is stealing identities, how identities are stolen, how stolen identities are being used and how identities thieves are often finally caught. IdentityTheftSecrets is bringing you a look at identity theft crimes and criminals in 2008.
The Truly Sad
The headlines read, “Woman Steals Daughter’s Identity to Attend High School, Join the Cheerleading Squad.” While this crime at first seems both laughable and sad, there are still lessons to be learned here.
A 33 year-old Wisconsin woman did use her 15-year-old daughter’s identity to enroll herself in high school and attend cheerleading practice and even attended a high school pool party. Wendy Brown claimed that she didn’t have a good childhood and wanted to relive that part of her life.
Brown only attended the first day of classes and a check she’d written for $134.50 for her cheerleading uniform bounced. An investigation revealed that Brown’s daughter actually lived with Brown’s mother who has custody of her granddaughter in Nevada and who shared that Brown “has a history of identity theft crimes.”
Identity Theft Lesson:
Child identity theft is a real issue that often isn’t discovered until children are older and trying to establish their own credit. Those who have children in their custody, whether relatives or foster children, should be especially vigilant when the child’s family has access to all personal information and a history of fraud crimes.
For more information on children and identity theft, read, “Is Your Child’s Identity Safe?” and “Is it REALLY MySpace?
The Really Scary
Gregory Colley, a financial consultant, milked Music Concourse Community Partnership, a non-profit corporation, of $3.9 million dollars. Colley plead guilty to embezzling, money laundering and identity theft. How did identity theft come into play in this elaborate scheme? Colley stole the identities of two officers of the corporation in order to transfer funds from the corporation’s bank account into his personal bank account.
Colley was sentenced to five years and four months in prison as well as restitution of the 3.9 million.
For more information on identity theft and charity read, “Identity Theft and Charity Begin at Home.”
Identity Theft Lesson:
Non-profit organizations and corporations are likely targets as they often have billions of dollars in trust. This case just shows how fraud and identity theft are often an inside job and that officers of corporations or non-profits must protect themselves well in order to protect the institutions they serve.
The Absolutely Scandalous
This is one of those identity theft stories that will really make your skin crawl. Denise Ramirez was convicted of identity theft for stealing and using a friend’s personal information to open fraudulent credit card and debit card accounts. The friend she took advantage of, Evanthia Pappas, was fighting inflammatory breast cancer and like many, struggling to pay for medical care. Ramirez also stole over $40,000 from Pappas bank accounts, which is being reimbursed by Citibank.
Ramirez is serving one year in jail and will be on five year’s probation.
Identity Theft Lesson:
The disheartening but necessary lesson here is that consumers need to protect their personal and financial information completely, not just from unknown, faceless threats but from “friends” as well. Especially for people who are already going through difficult times and are more dependent on others than usual, you really need to know who your friends are.
For more scandalous crimes read:
Identity Theft Lands Pregnant Woman In Jail: An Identity Theft Tragedy
Interview With An Identity Theft Victim: Christie Scalzo
Millions Stolen through Home-Equity Scams- Identity Thieves Arrested
Old Scam has New Victims and New Tricks
But Officer, I’m A Victim of Identity Theft
Whenever we see a story on identity theft we can be thankful that the thieves were caught and convicted but before we simply say “That’s too bad,” we should also consider how the crime occurred and what steps we can take to protect ourselves from similar circumstances.