Catching identity thieves requires solid cooperation and hard-hitting procedures among fraud examiners, auditors, law enforcement, postal inspectors, the courts, banks, credit card companies, business owners, government, and many others.
In August, 1993, a young woman, “Marge,” working for the City of Dallas, was arrested by Dallas County constables and charged with at least 12 counts of theft by writing insufficient funds checks. Marge swore she didn’t write the checks and provided handwriting samples that were markedly different than the handwriting on the checks. Suspecting stolen mail, the constable’s office called the U.S. postal inspectors. An investigation revealed another young woman, “Peggy,” stole Marge’s Texas Work Force Commission file from a prospective employer who was considering hiring both women. We found that Peggy had opened 12 credit card accounts and personal and business checking accounts in Dallas and Houston, and obtained a post office box, birth certificate, Texas Department of Public Safety identification card and an assumed name business certificate in Marge’s name. Peggy was finally identified while purchasing a diamond ring using instant credit in Marge’s name. The sales associate recognized Peggy as a former high school classmate.
After she was arrested, Peggy confessed and said she learned how to commit identity theft from her college roommate. Because she pleaded guilty to credit card abuse and forgery as a first-time offender, Peggy received 10 years’ probation. A year later, Marge was still trying to clean up her credit and avoid bad check arrests.