Iden­ti­ties of­ten stolen only to be sold

The Covington News - - LOCAL NEWS -

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.

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