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Entries in Identity Theft (9)

Tuesday
May082012

Iowa Student Presents Bouncer’s Stolen ID

Johnson County Sheriff's Department(IOWA CITY, Iowa) -- A 19-year-old University of Iowa student reportedly picked the wrong person to fool with a fake ID.

Steven Fiorella waited in line outside of The Union Bar in Iowa City as a bouncer checked drivers’ licenses early Saturday morning, according to the Press-Citizen.

When the teen handed the unidentified bouncer his license, it turns out he was unknowingly returning stolen property -- the license belonged to the man, who had reported it stolen in February.

When police arrived around 1 a.m., they found the bouncer’s debit and AAA cards in Fiorella’s possession, the newspaper reported.  Fiorella reportedly told police he bought the items at a party for $20.

He was arrested on charges of theft and unlawful use of another person’s identification.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr162012

Prosecutor: Mental Health Worker Stole Patients' IDs to File False Tax Returns

Suffolk County DA(NEW YORK) -- A New York man used his job at the Long Island Head Injury Association to steal the identities of dozens of patients disabled by head trauma in a crime that went undetected for years, prosecutors said Monday.

Benjamin Achampong, 30, allegedly stole the identities of 56 people with brain injuries -- using real names and social security numbers to file false tax returns so he could collect the refunds.

Describing Achampong as “a shameless, incorrigible thief and forger,” Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said “the investigation took quite a while because many of the people with the brain injury really couldn't cooperate with us."

Spota's office said Achampong is charged in a 48-count indictment that alleges grand larceny in the third degree, identity theft in the second degree, offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree and possession of a forged instrument in the second degree.

Achampong has also been accused in a credit card scam that victimized people in Colorado, Georgia, Michigan and Texas.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar162012

California Man Poses as Woman for 13 Years, Accused of Identity Theft

Orange County Sheriff's Department(SAN CLEMENTE, Calif.) -- A man accused of stealing and using a woman’s identity for 13 years has been arrested — but not before racking up thousands of dollars in medical bills and creating a living nightmare for his victim, say authorities.

Perla Serrano was found by a deputy in San Clemente, Calif., sleeping in a public area in violation of a city ordinance. The deputy believed the 51-year-old homeless man was a woman, but grew suspicious when he saw a hospital wristband with a different name.

“The deputy called San Clemente Hospital and was informed by San Clemente personnel that the person was actually a man, not a woman,” said Orange County Sheriff’s spokesman Jim Amormino.

According to authorities, Serrano came into possession of a piece of identification belonging to the victim, who is only being named publicly as Perla K. He was able to use it to get a health care card in her name, they said. In the felony complaint, Serrano and the victim share the same first name.

“The suspect has been charging medical services at as many as four hospitals in south Orange County and the damage is expected to be well over $100,000,” said Amormino. “He has 6-10 aliases that we know of, but so far we only know of one victim.”

Serrano was held on $20,000 bail pending arraignment. He faces six charges, including grand theft, commercial burglary, and identity theft.

“The victim has had to make several court appearances to clear up several arrest warrants over the years for crimes she didn’t commit. I am sure she is just happy it’s over,” said Amormino.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb232012

Fake Sex Ads Land Ex-Boyfriend in Slammer

Multnomah County Sheriff's Office(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- An Oregon man landed in jail earlier this week after allegedly posing as his pregnant ex-girlfriend and posting sex ads on Craigslist.

Andre Flom, 31, posed as his ex-girlfriend and posted her name, address and phone number in ads inviting men to her Portland, Ore. home for sexual encounters, Detective Levi Yandell told ABC News. The messages were written to appear as if the woman wrote them herself.

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The first ads were posted in November, shortly after Flom was convicted of strangling his ex in an act of domestic violence, court documents show. At the time, strangulation was a misdemeanor in Oregon, and Flom received probation, Yandell said. The victim is pregnant with Flom’s child, according to Yandell.

The victim, who also has a 2-year-old son fathered by another man, told detectives that after one of the ads posted, about 15 men showed up at her home asking for sex. The victim’s toddler was home when the men came calling.

“When you do that and you think it’s funny, there’s something wrong with you,” the victim’s mother told ABC News Portland affiliate KATU. She asked not to be identified because, she said, she and her daughter have been humiliated enough. Flom posted some ads with the victim’s address and phone number, and some with her mother’s address and number.

“I have like 100 texts, max, on my phone. I’d get that in like five minutes,” the victim’s mother told KATU. “The kinds of things that were being said were pretty obscene.”

There were also ads offering free trees on the victim’s property for anyone who wanted to dig them up, and one offered a children’s play structure to anyone who wanted to fetch it from her property. All told, Flom posted 37 ads from November to January.

Detectives were able to trace the IP address used to post the ads to Flom’s neighbor, who told detectives that his wireless Internet was not password protected.

While the victim sought help from police shortly after the strange men started showing up at her door, it took months for detectives to follow the “digital footprints,” Yandell said.

The victim has a restraining order against Flom. He is charged with aggravated identity theft, computer crime and identity theft. He is being held at the Multnomah County Iverness Jail on $30,000 bail.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan062012

Teen Accused of Stealing Identity of Senior White House Official

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- A Georgia teenager is facing felony charges after investigators say he unknowingly stole the Social Security number of a senior White House official and tried to apply for a credit card.

Austin Townsend, 17, of Douglas County is being charged with identity theft, despite reportedly not knowing who’s identity he was stealing. According to ABC News affiliate WSB-TV, federal agents would not name the victim, saying only it was a “senior-level cabinet official.” The U.S. Secret Service has declined to comment further on the matter.

“He wanted a Discover card and apparently got on the computer and started Googling different areas and ended up with a particular Social Security number,” Douglas County Chief Deputy Stan Copeland told WSB. “He was not Googling any particular person. We don’t think he had any knowledge [of who it was].”

After discovering the Social Security number did not match the name on the credit card application, a credit agency reportedly alerted the Secret Service when it realized who the number really belonged to.

“He’s not a terrorist … He was a child surfing the Internet,” Townsend’s attorney, Nicole Jones, told WSB. “He didn’t know who’s Social Security number it really was. … My fear is if that number was out there, who else’s number is on the Internet that anyone else can get to.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep162011

Guys Take Dead Friend Out for Night on the Town

FiIe photo. Britt Erlanson/Getty Images(DENVER) -- In a real life Weekend at Bernies, two Denver men who found their friend dead, allegedly took his body — and his credit card — out for a night of dinners, bar hopping, burritos and a strip club.

Not only did the two suspects drag around their deceased friend Jeffrey Jarrett, 43, they made him pay for everything, a police report stated. They allegedly used his bank card at an ATM to withdraw money to finance the night on the town, according to the report.

Robert Jeffrey Young, 43, and Mark Rubinson, 25, are charged with identity theft, criminal impersonation and abuse of a corpse, according to the Denver County Court.

On Aug. 27, Young allegedly arrived at Jarrett’s house and found him unconscious. Instead of calling the police or an ambulance, he went to the restaurant where Rubinson was working to tell him that “something is wrong with Jarrett,” according to the police report.

The pair allegedly returned to Jarrett’s house, found him “unresponsive,” put the body in the car and went to a bar.

They also made a stop at a diner before taking the body back to the house and putting it on a bed. They kept the bank card with them and used it to withdraw $400, according to police. The report said the two men ended their night around 4 a.m. after a few more stops, including a burrito restaurant and a strip club.

After the strip club closed, the duo allegedly flagged down a police officer and told him their friend might be dead at his house. When police officers arrived at the house, they “located Jarrett obviously deceased.”

Both of the men are free on bond and neither has been charged in Jarretts’s death. They could not be reached for comment. The cause of death is still unknown. Young is expected in court on Sept. 27 and Rubinson will be in court Oct. 4.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jun182011

Illegal Immigrant Accused of Using Stolen Identity to Get Airline Job

Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation Department(MIAMI) -- An illegal immigrant from Guyana is facing several charges after he was arrested on Friday for allegedly stealing the identity of a disabled man and using the man’s identity to land a job as a flight attendant.

Jophan Porter was arrested at Miami International Airport, after authorities say an investigation revealed that Porter used the identity of New York City resident Anthony Fair to secure the job with American Airlines.

The victim, who is unemployed, reportedly found out that his identity had been stolen after he was denied medical benefits by officials who claimed he was making too much money, according to ABC’s New York station WABC-TV.

Porter faces forgery and identity fraud charges, among others.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb032011

Florida Grandfather Reclaims His Identity After 17 Years 

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(AUBURN, Calif.) -- A homeless man who allegedly stole the identity of a Florida grandfather who spent time in jail for a crime he did not commit was arraigned Thursday on multiple counts that include identity theft and welfare fraud, police said.

Joseph Kidd is accused of stealing Larry Smith's identity for 17 years, also costing Smith access to his medical benefits. The other charges against Kidd are giving false information to a police officer and grand theft of services.

In 1993, Kidd was arrested and fingerprinted in California for an unspecified, nonviolent crime as "Lawrence E. Smith," beginning a nightmare for the real Lawrence E. Smith, who lives in Lehigh Acres, Fla. Investigators say they have discovered that Kidd had a birth certificate, a marriage license and even a driver's license with Larry Smith's name on it. He married a woman in 2007, allegedly using the alias.

Amid the confusion, the real Larry Smith has been wrongly ticketed for driving a purple Camaro too fast in 2001, billed $300,000 by Medicare and almost had his driver's license revoked for offenses he didn't commit.

"I spent eight days in jail in 2006 and my wife was on the phone 24-7 saying that it's not me," Smith said. "She sent paycheck stubs from where I was working when these crimes occurred to prove it wasn't me."

Larry Smith said he can't recall ever meeting Kidd and has no idea why the man targeted him.

Kidd, using the name "Lawrence E. Smith," had violated his parole and police nationwide were looking for him in July of 2006, officials said. Florida police apparently thought the real Larry Smith was the wanted man and booked him into an Orlando jail.

Smith's wife took action, calling authorities to try and free her husband. Sue and Larry Smith were able to convince Florida authorities that he wasn't the Larry Smith they wanted. Police found Kidd, the man allegedly pretending to be Smith, in Arkansas. Kidd was extradited to California.

But, instead of correcting the error, police rebooked Kidd as "Lawrence E. Smith," officials said. Kidd served time in prison for his parole violation and when he was released, he was given a parole ID card with the alias on it as well.

"We get into law enforcement to do the right thing and when I see people who had the opportunity to do the right thing and took the short way out, it's frustrating," Det. Jim Hudson of California's Placer County Sheriff's Department said.

Hudson helped arrest Kidd Tuesday in Auburn, Calif. He said that Kidd, 56, is a transient and not a "respectable citizen." Kidd has been booked on several nonviolent crimes in California throughout the 17 years, Hudson said, declining to release details about the crimes for fear of damaging Smith's reputation any further.

Hudson, who focuses on cases of identity theft, was tipped off by Placer County welfare investigators after Kidd allegedly tried to apply for welfare benefits using Smith's name.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Saturday
Nov202010

Authorities Hunt for Mysterious Figure in Veterans Charity Scam

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- The man who once rubbed shoulders with GOP political luminaries is now wanted by Ohio state authorities who say the $100 million he raised in the name of a charity for U.S. Navy veterans cannot be located.

He went by the names Bobby Thompson and Ronnie Brittain, but authorities say both were stolen identities. His charity, the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, ran its national headquarters in Washington, D.C., out of a post office box at a UPS store.

Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray charged that this alleged con artist had done "in the charitable sphere what Bernie Madoff did in the investment sphere. It's shocking, and it's discouraging and it's depressing to think so many people wanted to give to veterans and in fact they were giving to this man and his sham organization."

Thompson collected as much as $100 million over the past decade from donors who thought they were contributing to a legitimate veterans service organization, according to Cordray, and 99 percent of the funds are now unaccounted for. He donated more than $200,000 to prominent politicians, mostly Republicans.

Some, like President George W. Bush and the presumptive incoming House Speaker, John Boehner, posed for photographs with him. Others, including a former Ohio Attorney General, initially supported what they believed were his legitimate charitable efforts.

Darryl Rouson, a Florida legislator, initially helped represent the man he thought was Bobby Thompson after he first came under fire in reports by the St. Petersburg Times, the newspaper that first raised questions about the so-called veterans charity.

"He seemed to be a knowledgeable man about politics and community affairs," Rouson told ABC News. "He was engaging, jovial. I had no reason to suspect he was anything other than who he said he was."

Mike DeWine, a former U.S. Senator who is preparing to take over as Ohio Attorney General, was one of many Republicans who took donations from the man who called himself Bobby Thompson. He now says he expects to pursue the case against Thompson with the same vigor as his Democratic predecessor, Cordray.

He conceded in an interview with ABC News that the business of political fundraising is not always as intimate as people believe -- that candidates raise most of their money from people who are, essentially, total strangers.

"Some people who give you money, you just don't know them," DeWine said. "You don't know who they are. You're talking about thousands of people, you don't have a clue who they are. It can be pretty hard to sort all that out. You've got to try."

Now, authorities are trying to sort out Thompson's real identity. And his location.

The person calling himself Bobby Thompson and claiming to be a retired lieutenant commander in the Navy surfaced in Florida in 1998, according to a timeline compiled by the St. Petersburg Times, giving his age as 52 when he registered to vote in Hillsborough County. He formed a Navy veterans' political action committee the next year, and then launched the U.S. Navy Veterans Association as a non-profit veterans service organization in 2002, applying for tax-exempt status with the IRS.

After the St. Petersburg Times began investigating Thompson, a reporter from the newspaper was able to confront "Thompson" outside his Ybor City, Florida duplex in 2009 and conduct an interview with him. Thompson told the paper he was part Choctaw Indian and was from Mississippi. He also said he had a relative in the tribe named Bobby Thompson, "but I'm not him." He also claimed to have joined the Navy underage, but the Navy has no record of his service.

According to Ohio authorities, "Thompson" stole the identity of a man named Bobby Thompson from Washington State. He also had an identity card from the state of Indiana issued under the name of a man from New Mexico named Ronnie Brittain. The real Ronnie Brittain is the head of a veterans group in New Mexico.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio