Checking your credit report is the best way to detect criminal fraudulent activity done in your name. Evidence of identity theft typically comes in the form of fraudulent or inaccurate information on your credit report, such as incorrect addresses, name, initials or Social Security number.
Here are some other signs of identity theft:
• Failing to receive bills or other mail related to your accounts (an identity thief may have taken over your account and changed the billing address).Receiving credit cards for which you did not apply.
• Unexpectedly being denied credit or being offered less-favorable credit terms than expected.
• Getting calls from debt collectors or businesses about debts or charges you cannot explain.
• Strange charges and debts on your accounts that don’t make sense or on accounts you didn’t open.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office issued a press release involving the criminal arrest and indictment of defendant, a computer technician employed by the Bank of New York Melon. The 138 count Identity Theft and Grand Larceny indictment accuses the defendant of stealing the identities of 150 bank employees while perpetrating a $1.1 million dollar fraud. The fraud and thefts were alleged to have transpired from 2001 through 2009.
It is alleged that the victims of these crimes were many co-workers of defendant who worked in the information technology group of Bank of New York Melon. According to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, defendant “opened over 30 bank and brokerage accounts in their identities with several financial institutions, including E*Trade, Fidelity, Citi, Wachovia, and Washington Mutual. These accounts served as dummy accounts for the purpose of receiving stolen funds. Defendant then stole money from the bank accounts of charities and non-profit organizations and funneled it into the dummy accounts, later withdrawing the stolen funds or transferring them to a second layer of dummy accounts.”
Much of the money that defendant is alleged to have stolen was used to purchase goods and ship them to Nigeria as well as to cover his personal expenses such as rent and credit card bills. Moreover, it is alleged that defendant purchased $100,000 in USPS money orders after transferring funds through the fraudulent accounts.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, the police executed a search warrant at defendant’s apartment on April 30, 2009. There, “investigators found dozens of Bank of New York employees’ credit reports on his computer, along with many other documents containing personal identifying information of more than 150 Bank of New York employees. In a storage locker defendant rented, the investigative team found notebooks containing hundreds of names, social security numbers, account numbers, and other personal data, along with numerous credit cards in Bank of New York employees’ names. Investigators also recovered $30,000 in cash from defendant’s apartment. Defendant was arrested in the course of the search warrant execution, and has remained in custody since.
The Grand Jury indicted defendant on one count of Grand Larceny in the First Degree (punishable by up to 8 and 1/3 to 25 years in prison), 138 counts of counts of Identity Theft in the First Degree (punishable by up to 2 and 1/3 to 7 years in prison), one count of Money Laundering in the First Degree (punishable by up to 8 and 1/3 to 25 years in prison), one count of Computer Tampering in the First Degree (punishable by up to 5 to 15 years in prison), two counts of Money Laundering in the Second Degree (punishable by up to 5 to 15 years in prison), three counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (punishable by up to 5 to 15 years in prison), two counts of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (punishable by up to 1 and 1/3 to 4 years in prison), and one count of Unlawful Possession of Personal Identification Information in the Second Degree (punishable by up to 1 and 1/3 to 4 years in prison).
Certainly, it is not favorable to the defendant that a search warrant executed at his home revealed an abundance of personal information belonging to employees of the Bank of New York Melon. Moreover, the defendant’s IP address was likely tracked to a particular provider and then ultimately to his account (or an account used by him.) Certainly, others could have had access to his account and computer. Additionally, there are legal arguments to be made and potential challenges to the search warrant. However, regardless of the approach to this case, defendant has a long road ahead of him and needs to decide the best defense to the accusations and implement that defense immediately.
Some commercial, fee-based services promise to monitor your credit reports for suspicious activity and alert you to changes. Not all are created equal and some of them are simply not worth the money. Do your homework and check out the company with the Better Business Bureau or state Attorney General if in doubt to see if they have received any consumer complaints.