Articles Tagged with Identity Theft

ales-nesetril-1070103-unsplash-copy-300x199A teenager from Rosemont is facing multiple felony charges for credit card theft.

18-year-old Salvador Nunez was charged with 30 felonies for using stolen credits card at various northwest suburban Rosemont locations. Rosemont police stated Nunez was charged with 15 Class 3 felonies for stealing someone’s identity and an additional 15 for the unlawful use of a credit card.

The most serious offense in the category of criminal charges is a felony. Felonious acts also carry with them the most severe penalties. The degree of the punishment depends on the class of the felony committed. According to Illinois law, they range from the least serious, a Class 4, to the most serious, a Class X.

file9961246478372The highest courts in the USA have considered this question and apparently found that to some extent the answer is no. Specifically, the higher courts objected to some of the provisions as they relate to identity theft and the constitutional rights of defendants. The Illinois Supreme Court consequently overturned a key provision of the state identity theft statute. The key contention was that this provision was effectively criminalizing conduct that would otherwise not be considered to be criminal. The case in question involved a Google search in where there was no evidence of criminal intent.  The internet has opened up so many opportunities but also a series of legal nightmares for the profession, particularly with regards to the world of social media, which seems to require laws unto itself. Consequently, there is a genuine fear about the escalating practice of identity theft. The state legislators felt that they had to act even at the expense of civil liberties.

Overkill in Regulating Internet Activity

As is often the case in legal cases, the cure can be as painful as the disease. The innocent end up suffering at the hands of lawmakers who are not as comfortable with new media as they ought to be. The temptation is to ban everything or alternatively to give room for suing over nothing. In the People v Madrigal, No 110194, 2011 WL 1074427 (Ill Sup Ct), the defendant successfully convinced the Illinois Supreme court that the law had become an unfair burden. Specifically, section 16G-15(a) (7) of the Identity Theft Law (720 ILCS 5/16G–1 et seq.) indicated that a criminal offense occurs if a person uses the identity of another in order to gain access to information online without the permission of the person whose identity is being used. The act is clear enough when it comes to criminal activity that involves overstepping identity verification procedures through impersonation in order to commit a crime. However the position is less clear if no criminal purpose is intended.

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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.

As someone who has recently been arrested for Chicago identity theft, you are probably more than aware of the ever growing epidemic of ID theft in the United States.

The problem of identity theft is not contained to one group of people or another, and, contrary to popular belief, is not due to carelessness. Identity theft is also nothing new although there are new ways to accomplish the crime. In the mid-90’s, Steven Spielberg had his personal information hacked by an inmate in a Tennessee prison who was angling to use Spielberg’s American Express card. Oprah Winfrey had her social security number, birth dates of friends and relatives and personal addresses stolen by a busboy and Anthony Taylor obtained Tiger Woods’ personal information, purchasing more than $50,000 in merchandise.

Taylor additionally procured a fake driver’s license, social security card and military I.D. in Tiger’s name—even though he apparently was not bright enough to spell Tiger’s middle name correctly on the illegal documents. High-tech online thieves have even stolen personal information from Michelle Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden, the director of the FBI and even the Los Angeles Police Chief.

On a more local level, four womewallet-1-1160544-mn recently attempted to board a Chicago flight to Las Vegas when they were arrested and charged with identity theft. The four women’s plane tickets were purchased with a stolen Discover card and each woman was in possession of a variety of other stolen items including credit cards, keys to a Hertz rental car, stolen driver’s licenses and counterfeit I.D.’s. Bonds set for the four women ranged from $25,000 to $75,000, with three of the women being held in lieu of bond. The Chicago Police Financial Crimes Unit, along with the U.S. Secret Service, are currently investigating the incident.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, over 8 million households reported one instance of identity theft in 2010, costing victims over $13 billion. Victims of identity theft typically suffer losses of about $2,200. Identity theft occurs when an individual uses the personal information of another without knowledge or permission and with a goal of personal gain. This information can include social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, banking information, birthdates and credit card numbers. Personal information stolen from another can be used to apply for credit cards—or even a mortgage to buy a home.

Anyone charged with identity theft today will face a wide range of potential charges as well as state and federal law enforcement bent on pursuing the maximum penalties possible. The five basic types of identity theft are:

  • Character and criminal theft
  • Theft of Social Security numbers
  • Theft of medical information
  • Theft of DMV records
  • Financial theft

Financial theft involves using stolen credit cards or banking information in order to steal another’s financial assets. Stealing another’s identity in order to commit crimes—while keeping one’s own record clear—falls under character and criminal theft. Social Security theft is rampant simply because there is a huge amount of personal information which can be accessed with this coveted number. Theft of a Social Security number can in turn allow thieves to avoid debt or taxes or can be used to directly steal money. Some identity thieves steal medical information as a means of getting necessary medical procedures done while avoiding the bill, and, finally, driver’s license theft—like Social Security number theft—can be used to gain access to other personal information. Theft of driver’s licenses is the number one form of ID theft in the United States.

There are certain “enhancers” to the crime of identity theft which can increase the eventual sentence. Aggravated identity theft involves the commission of a felony in conjunction to the identity theft and can add two years to the sentence. If you held a position of power over your identity theft victim you can expect a significant increase in your sentence. Those involved in phishing scams may also receive an additional two years added to their sentencing. (Phishing is a practice which makes Internet users believe they are receiving an email from a trusted sources or that they are securely connected to a trusted web site when that is not the case). Continue reading