For some identity theft victims, the pain of discovering their information was stolen by a friend, relative, co-worker, or even a landlord is very real. But for far too many victims, never finding out who caused such devastation in their lives is just as terrible. That’s why a recent police investigation that turned up a small identity theft ring is a victory for security-minded individuals everywhere.
Police near Portland, Oregon, have made an arrest in an identity theft case that has targeted an expected 300 people. While tracking down identity thieves can be like looking for a needle in the worldwide haystack, the suspects in question already had previous convictions for identity theft.
In this case, their suspicious behavior led to further probes that turned up the full scope of the crime. When Paul Herbert and Jennifer Coffman were pulled over for a traffic violation, the officer noticed that Herbert had two driver’s licenses. That led to further investigation into the pair’s activity, and at the couple’s home, a treasure trove of victim information was discovered, along with luggage that had been stolen from a nearby airport.
With so many cases of “high tech” identity theft and cybercrime, it’s easy to forget that “old school” methods are still very viable. The criminals, in this case, were found to have been stealing mail. They used the information garnered from other people’s documents to create new driver’s licenses with their own photos and used stolen credit cards to purchase prepaid debit cards, which they were then able to use without being traced.
In order to protect against this type of identity theft crime, there are some steps the public can take that might minimize the risk. Making sure to secure your mail is a good first step, as is avoiding leaving mail sitting in your mailbox for too long. It’s also important to look through all of your bank statements and credit card accounts carefully for any signs of suspicious activity, then report it to your financial institutions and the police immediately.
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