There are many victims of identity theft and those victims go through long periods of painful circumstances because of the criminals stealing their identities. “I Was Framed- Identity Theft” is inspired by a true story behind the scenes at Cluso Investigation, a Texas licensed Private Investigation Company.
We find a significant percentage of those disputing criminal history will claim they are “victims” of identity theft. So not only do criminals steal identities, they also claim to be the victims when we catch them with criminal history. If you are real victim of identity theft, see egoDefense for our service to help you.
The Real Story
Our client “ABC Company” required a general background check for an accounting department (bookkeeper) position. We automatically cross-check identity and found a slightly different legal name spelling in a “trace” listing. Tracing is based on an investigation tool using credit header, postal mail delivery, division of motor vehicle and other sources. The information is far from accurate but it is used for flagging and it helps us widen our scope and combat against candidates providing inaccurate information on purpose to avoid their criminal history being discovered.
As an example (these names are not real), we’ll use “Marry Joe” was provided to us by the candidate as the legal name. But we found “Mary Joe” in trace. We also found possible current addresses used in GA and VA (at the same time.)
We ran a GA state police report with the identity provided as “Marry Joe” and the GA state police showed a non-prosecuted Felony Fraud case under the legal name “Mary Joe” with the same SSN and DOB listed causing further concern we were provided an incorrect legal name.
The first action for us was to check DL or government ID checking the name spelling to see if the candidate can prove the name spelling provided. In this story, the candidate provided a GA ID card (not the DL) with the name “Marry Joe”.
The 2nd task for us was to add criminal record searches with both names so we can gather all criminal cases showing under both names finding out what the candidate may be hiding for a criminal history. Other fraud related cases were discovered in another state.
At this point we found criminal cases and a big question mark on the identity of the person, and if the person is truly “Marry Joe” and not “Mary Joe”, the cases showing may not be her cases.
We contacted the candidate and the explanation was as follows:
Her purse or wallet was stolen from her dorm room in college in the state where the other fraud cases were listed and she has had an identity theft issue ever since. She said she had a GA state Driver License until she received a notice from the GA DMV which said another VA DL was issued with her name and SSN and since they have a reciprocal arrangement to not allow multiple active licenses, GA revoked her DL. She said she needed a job to get enough money to go to VA to fix the situation and report the identity theft issue with the VA State police. She said the VA police [over the phone] told her to come to the police department in person to resolve the matter. She also said she visited the Social Security Administration multiple times to get a new SSN issued because her number had been breached and used by this other “person” for many years without an way to stop the abuse from happening.
She sounded very innocent and completely like a victim of identity theft. Our report contained the facts and case information found under both names since all appeared to match (after further investigation) to her SSN. Our client questioned her after our issued report and believed her story as an identity theft victim and hired her.
Fast forward four months…
Our client called us to tell us “Marry Joe” quit a month prior due to a death in the family after a couple of months of poor attendance and many excuses to not show up to work. They had their doubts about the “death in the family” because when they asked where to send flowers, she would not tell them. They were suspicious at that point and they internally audited “Marry Joe’s” bookkeeping. Initially they found $500 in checks paid for invoices/bills not found in their system. This sparked a full audit and over $10K in fraud was ultimately discovered.
Be aware embezzlers are sophisticated in their techniques. “Marry Joe” offered to pay bills of other people at a discounted rate and write those checks from the company bank account. So the checks written were not directly benefiting “Marry Joe”. For instance, she would agree to pay a person’s Sprint bill for 75% of the actual bill (receiving cash or other compensation) and write the check from her employer’s check register. Usually the embezzler will choose vendors which match in name to currently existing vendors such as when the company already has a Sprint account so checks to Sprint would not cause suspicion.
For Employers: Although identity theft is no laughing matter for the true victims, don’t let your company be the next victim based on this “identity theft victim scam”. Even when you believe the candidate is a victim of identity theft, make sure you ask for fingerprint cards from the candidate to hold for your records (so later if anything happens you know exactly who you hired), and you should not give financial and accounting positions to candidates without having a concrete understanding of someone’s identity. Do not allow a financial/accounting position to be “unsupervised” especially if there is an identity question. A signature or double signature on checks likely would not have prevented this because the checks were made out to normal vendors to the company.
For Consumers: If you are victim of identity theft, know it is more than financial fraud you have to be concerned about. See our egoDefense to to help defend you from having your next job opportunity foiled by an identity thief.
Check out more comics: