A combination of two ultimate fraud charges, identity theft and counterfeiting, resulted in a major potential felony bomb threat at the Midway Airport. All of these elements came to light when a Chicago woman attempted to smuggle counterfeit and stolen credit/debit cards out of the state, and ended up as what the authorities thought was a bomb threat. See DNAinfo Chicago.
The Identity Theft Incident, Now a Major Crime
Prior to 1998, identity theft was not considered a major crime. Identity theft and identity fraud is pretty much the same thing. This is a crime where one person obtains and uses the personal information of a victim to advance his or her own personal gain. The personal information used, such as birth date, social security number, etc., allows the perpetrator to pose as the victim for the purpose of obtaining a loan, buying merchandise or obtaining credit in the victim’s name. This fraud has far reaching consequences for the victim, because once the identity has been used, to run up credit debt, or for criminal activity, they will have major problems in trying to restore their good name.
One of the most infamous cases of identity theft was where a convicted felon run up a total of $100,000 in credit card debt in the victim’s name, took out a federally insured home loan, bought a house, a motorcycle, and handguns in the victim’s name. The victim spent four years and $15,000 trying to restore his good name, while the perpetrator got a slap on the wrist.
In 1998, Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Act which provided the Secret Service, the FBI and the US Postal Inspection Service with the power to investigate potential identity fraud cases. This led to other laws dealing with identity theft protection such as Fair Credit Billing Act, and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, to name a few, being passed. Identity theft, from here on out was viewed as a major crime in the eyes of the law. Steps were taken to inform the public about measures they should take in order to protect themselves.
Counterfeiting of Credit Cards
Counterfeiting is the creation of a false instrument and passing it off as the real thing. It can be anything from bootlegged music CDs, clothing, to currency and credit cards, and it is a felony punishable, in some jurisdictions, with up to 15 years in prison. Counterfeiting is relatively easy to detect once the authorities start looking for it. The proliferation of counterfeit items is really the main problem.
Bomb Threats in the Current Environment of Terrorist Activity
Law enforcement both federal and state acting on high alert, consider any incident of what may appear to be a bomb threat, especially at an airport, as a serious matter. Recently a bomb threat alert at the Midway Airport was initiated due to the activation of security surveillance equipment that had mistaken the reading of smuggled credit/debit cards for a bomb threat, but that ended up being nothing more than identity theft and counterfeiting.
Midway Airport officials were looking for a bomb, but instead they found 200 fake credit cards. It is believed that the magnetic strip found on the back of credit cards were responsible for setting off the bomb detector. It appears that a woman stuffed these phony credit cards into her socks and shoes. When she went through airport security, the alarm was activated. Daquator Lane was in the possession of 112 gift cards, 78 debit cards in her name and 10 debit cards in the names of other people. She was attempting to smuggle these cards through the airport security when she activated the bomb alert detector. Thereafter, Lane was charged with identity theft and possession of counterfeit credit cards. See DNAinfo Chicago
Counterfeiting is illegal, so is identity theft. Bomb threats are without question illegal. Crime and punishment is a matter of law enforcement, starting with an accusation, potential arrest and prosecution. We are a nation of laws, and as such, it is critical that we know what our rights are under the law. That is why it is critical to know where you stand when faced with any charge that you have committed a crime.
If charged with a crime, your first consideration will be the need to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney because knowing your rights is the first step in the process. The Law Offices of David Freidberg is available to answer any legal questions you might have. Please call (312) 560-7100, or send an email, for a free consultation.