Identities often stolen only to be sold
notes, keep excellent records. Don’t rely on anybody else to do it. Don’t rely on your credit card company to do it. Don’t rely on anybody but yourself. Keep a diligent eye on your credit report. Not just this year. Keep an eye on it next year too and maybe the year after that, just to make sure.”
Seals said victims often think if their ID is stolen and used multiple times, that it is the same offender, but this is often not the case.
“ It is very common for someone to steal an identity and never use it, but instead to sell it. They will sell it on the Web. There are whole Web sites out there that sell people’s information. That’s very lucrative business.”
An identity being sold outside of the US is a growing trend, especially to parts of Asia and South America.
Though the process can be tedious and frustrating, there is always light at the end of tunnel.
“ Most people come out smelling like a rose,” said Seals.
From the case files
Of the hundreds of identity thefts Covington Police Detective DJ Seals has worked in his career, one particular case exemplifies the lengths people can go to when stealing another’s identity.
The victim first realized something was amiss when she attempted to rent a new apartment. The complex director asked why she needed another apartment when she was already renting out several in other areas.
The woman immediately contacted the CPD and Seals. As the detective was speaking to her, he ran her name through the system. She came back with warrants.
“But it wasn’t her though,” Seals said. “She had been a victim for almost five years and didn’t even know it. This lady was doing such a good job at keeping it on the down low. She had apartments in this lady’s name, she had cars in this lady’s name and she had tickets in this lady’s name.”
The warrants were from outstanding tickets in DeKalb County for no license on person.
“I was able to start putting it together,” Seals said. “If she had no license, she must be giving the information out. So I started running these apartments back and asking questions and we finally got her.”
The investigation led Seals to small town in North Carolina. He contacted local law enforcement, who knew the woman by name. The officer knew the woman not because she had a criminal record, but instead because she was a manager at the town’s largest chain department store.
“Now do you think she had access to people’s information? Now I don’t know the scope, but we were able to get with North Carolina authorities, and we got her,” Seals said. “She was wanted in eight other counties in this state for the exact same thing, but with other victims.”
The woman eventually pleaded to the crime and received two to three years confinement. As far as Seals knows, she has yet to go to court on the charges from the other eight other counties.
“It can go on for a long time,” he said. “She did not look a thing like this other woman. She didn’t sign anything like this other woman. She had no similarities.”
The thief had even taken birth certificates for her own children, photocopied them, put some correction fluid on them and changed her information on the certificate to match the victim so that she could get breaks at the places where she was staying.
“ She was getting food stamps for these kids that didn’t exist,” Seals said “So don’t think that the only victims are adults. Those children, in a way, were victims of identity theft.”
Seals said the woman was only caught because she became sloppy.