Former law enforcement officers and company founders - on protecting your identity

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Texas Ranger: Co-Founder Terry Welch

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Podcast: Heather Wagenhals Talks About Scammers

Just because identity theft is all the rage today, doe not mean scammers haven’t always been with us. Heather traces them back from Charles Ponzi, the grandfather of scammers to present time.


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Congress Slow to Act on ID Theft

The Casey bill is pending before Congress and appears not to stand much chance of passing this session. It’s goals are modest. Patrick Crow tells us that it would criminalize the sale of social security numbers, force Medicare to stop use social security numbers for identification purposes and force the IRS to act on tax refund fraud within 90 days. And yet Congress seems disinterested in addressing these problems. There’s much more that could be done, how about going to a pin based system that would enable the elimination of ss numbers altogether. Until Congress gets tough on this issue, nothing will get done and Americans will continue to be easy marks.

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ID Theft Warriors Podcast: Don’t Use Debit Cards!

It’s no secret that identity theft is out of control. Allison Spadafore, 30, was charged Monday with 45 counts of identity fraud, 15 counts of criminal tools, two counts of money laundering, two counts of misuse of credit card, one count of attempted misuse of credit card and one count of obstructing official business.

Next, the IRS has started a cyber-crimes unit to fight income tax refund fraud. It’s probably too little too late.

Finally, Patrick Crow talks about the devastating effects of the recent federal data breach of the Office of Personnel Management. Is it the equivalent of a digital Pearl Harbor? It could be, the information is so extensive and invasive and could compromise thousands of agents and government employees with security clearances.Listen Here!

ID Theft Warriors Podcast: Robert Siciliano: We have all been breached.

No doubt you’ve heard about the recent breach of the Office of Personnel Management. Every Federal Employee’s full personnel record has been hacked! The problem is that we’ve all been hacked. The question is what to do about it. According to Robert Siciliano, the nation’s leading authority on identity theft, the best thing we can do is freeze our credit reports, lock down our computers, networks and digital devices and stay ever vigilant. Our data has been circulating for years and that’s the untold truth. But if we take the necessary precautions we can limit the fallout.
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Call Center Employees: The Potential Threat From Trusted Insiders

Even with strong passwords and credit cards in your possession, you may still become an identity theft victim. Your account with keepmyID identity protection companywill provide identity restoration services, if necessary.

As the press release below highlights, trusted insiders who are actually criminals may use their position to “unjustly enrich themselves by stealing personal identifying information.”   In this instance a ring of eight individuals used information stolen from a contractor hired to provide sales and customer service for a telephone companys call center.  According to court documents, two of the co-conspirators obtained victims personal information while working at the call center.  The other conspirators were later added as authorized users to victims credit and debit cards.  Together the ring stole over $130,000 from unsuspecting telephone company customers.

First Defendant Sentenced In Identity Theft Fraud Scheme Involving Personal Identifying Information From At&T Customer Files

August 7, 2014

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Donnell Young, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announce that U.S. District Judge Marcia G. Cooke sentenced Chouman Emily Syrilien, 25, of Lauderdale Lakes, to 34 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release.

Syrilien previously pled guilty to one count of possession of 15 or more unauthorized access devices and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1029(a)(3) and 1028A for participating in a conspiracy to unjustly enrich themselves by stealing personal identifying information and using the information to make unauthorized wire transfers from the victimsbank accounts and obtain unauthorized credit or debit cards.

Co-defendants Jacqueline Nicole Lee Warrick, 26, of Miami, and Tracy Delva, 27, of Deerfield Beach, pled guilty on July 30, 2014, and Carlos Antonio Alexander, 24, of Orlando, pled guilty on July 16, 2014, to one count of using an authorized access device and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1029(a)(2) and 1028A. Alexanders sentencing is scheduled for October 1, 2014. Sentencing for Warrick and Delva is scheduled for October 15, 2014.

Co-defendant Angel Arcos, 23, of Pompano Beach, pled guilty on May 15, 2014, to one count conspiracy to commit bank fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349. Arcossentencing is scheduled for September 3, 2014 at 2:00 p.m.

Change of plea hearings are scheduled on September 3, 2014, for Monique Smith, 31, of Pompano Beach, and Shantegra LaShae Godfrey, 23, of Deerfield Beach.

Trial is scheduled on September 22, 2014, for Arrington Basil Segu, 28, of Miami.

According to court documents, defendant Syrilien was employed by Interactive Response Technologies, Inc. (IRT) located in Margate. IRT provides staffing for call centers to handle direct sales and customer inquiries for AT&T. Syrilien unlawfully provided a co-conspirator with the personal identifying information from multiple AT&T customer files. Defendant Segu also unlawfully provided personal identifying information of numerous individuals to the co-conspirator.

Defendants Alexander, Delva, Godfrey, Smith and Warrick were added as “authorized users” on victimscredit or debit card accounts or bank accounts to access the accounts of persons whose personal identifying information had been stolen. Once a co-conspirators name was added as an “authorized user,” the bank and/or credit card company was directed to mail additional debit or credit cards bearing the names of these newly added “authorized users” to their addresses or addresses under their control, all without the true account holder’s knowledge or consent. The defendants used these credit and debit cards to make purchases or obtain money.

Defendants Delva and Warrick both utilized fraudulently obtained debit and credit cards that bore their names as additional “authorized users” on victimsaccounts to make both retail purchases as well as cash advances in excess of $28,000. Defendants Alexander, Smith and Godfrey made retail purchases as well as cash advances in excess of $24,000, $12,000 and $8,200, respectively.

Defendant Arcos allowed his personal information to be used to open a bank account to further the fraudulent activity. From September 16 to 18, 2013, five withdrawals totaling $13,000 were made from the fraudulent account and deposited into Arcoschecking account.

The defendants face a maximum of thirty years in prison for the conspiracy charge, a maximum of ten years in prison for the access device fraud charge, and a mandatory term of two years in prison for the aggravated identity theft charge.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI and FBI.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia R. Wood.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or on

August Means “Back to School” For Students and Criminals

Criminals steal identifying information such as social security numbers of children and young adults because they often have no credit history.  The keepmyID Family Plan will provide reimbursement and restitution services for all members of your household.

The FBI reported that in 2012, almost 200,000 Americans ages 16 to 24 were victims of identity theft.  In preparing for young adults to leave home and begin a new life on college campuses, the Better Business Bureau is warning of the possibility of identity theft:

  • Students in all financial categories are targets due to their pristine credit
  • ID theft took 132 days on average to detect and more money was stolen
  • BBB recommends seven simple steps to reduce vulnerability
  • Step 8:  Have a keepmyID protection plan in place before you leave home

Here is the full article:

BBB: 7 Tips To Avoid ID Theft On Campus

College students have enough to juggle when it comes to school, work and their social life. Fighting fraud often doesn’t make their list of priorities. College students are susceptible to identity theft, however, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) recommends that they take seven simple steps to protect themselves on campus.

“Identity thieves don’t care if you’re a struggling student and don’t have a penny to your name,” said Michelle L. Corey, BBB President and CEO. “Sometimes all they want is to exploit your clean credit record. By establishing good habits for monitoring and detecting fraud, students can lay a path for healthy financial practices for the rest of their lives.”

According to Javelin Strategy and Research, identity theft committed against people aged 18 to 24 took the longest to detect—132 days on average—when compared to other age groups. The average cost of losses to this age group—$1,156was roughly five times more than amount lost by other age groups.

The BBB recommends that college-bound students take the following seven steps to fight identity theft on campus:

  • School mailboxes are not always secure and often can be accessed easily in a dorm or apartment. To combat sticky fingers in the mailroom, have sensitive mail sent to a permanent address, such as a parent’s home or a P.O. box.
  • Important documents should be stored under lock and key. This includes your Social Security card, passport and bank and credit card statements. Shred any paper documents that have sensitive financial information rather than just tossing them out. Also shred any credit card offers that come in the mail.
  • Never lend your credit or debit card to anyone, even if they are a friend. Just say no if your friend wants you to cosign for a loan or financing for items like a TV.
  • Make sure your computer has up-to-date antivirus and spyware software. Always install any updates and patches to your computer’s operating system or browser software that help keep your computer safe from any new advances by identity thieves online.
  • Always check your credit or debit card statements closely for any suspicious activity. The sooner you identify any potential fraud, the less you’ll suffer in the long run.
  • When shopping on unfamiliar websites, always check the company out first with BBB online. Also look for the BBB Accredited Business seal along with other trust seals; click on the seals to confirm that they are legitimate.
  • Check your credit report at least once a year with all three reporting bureaus for any suspicious activity or inaccuracies.
  • For more advice on fighting fraud and managing personal finances, visit or call 314-645-3300.

BBB: 7 Tips To Avoid ID Theft On Campus


I just could not help it.  “Russian hackers breached over 1 Billion (that’s with a “B” folks) accounts today!”  I just kept hearing ID theft, ID theft, ID theft and my brain said to me “RUN MAN RUN and change everything as fast as you can.  Hide your money.  Hide your cards.  Hide your wives…your kids” (oh wait, that’s another news story).  Am I the only one that had this visceral reaction to the all the news about the mega breach today?  But then….I stopped.  I took a breath.  And I realized…I don’t have to worry about this stuff anymore.  I have  I am covered for every kind of conceivable ID theft plus $1 million dollars.  Ahhhhh, what a nice feeling.  Now, what else is on the news.

Well, they say that amateurs draw attention to themselves but the quiet ones are the professionals.  That is true.  While Chinese hackers have been causing a ruckus invading U.S. web sites during the last few years, a gang of Russian hackers has apparently pulled off the largest heist yet of digital data. The group has stolen 1.2 billion username and password combinations, according to Hold Security of Milwaukee, and more than 500 million email addresses.

Russia, with a vast techno-industrial complex dating to the Cold War, is generally considered to have premier cyberwarfare capabilities. “When I was in government, we thought the Russians were the best in the world at this, after the United States,” security expert Richard Clarke, a top White House advisor during the George W. Bush administration, said during a panel discussion at this year’s Milken Institute Global Conference.

“That is still the prevailing view,” said Chris Inglis, who until earlier this year was deputy director at the National Security Agency.

There’s no evidence the huge Russian hack was a government operation. But Russia’s Orwellian security sector has spawned an army of cyberruffians Vladimir Putin’s government has done little to rein in. A year ago, for instance, U.S. prosecutors revealed details of a 7-year scheme perpetrated by Russian hackers who obtained access to 800,000 U.S. bank accounts and more than 160 million credit and debit card numbers — believed at the time to be the biggest cybercrime ever.

Hold Security says the Russian group carrying out the latest attack seems to be using the stolen data for spamming operations, which would be less serious than the theft of credit-card information that has afflicted Target (TGT) and other companies. Still, the kind of data the Russians stole can be matched with other information and used for identity theft—on a potentially huge scale, given the sheer amount of personal information gathered.

The most notable thing about the Russian hack may be its astonishing breadth. Many cyberattacks drill deep into one company’s databases to extract as much information as possible on the firm’s customers. The Russians, by contrast, gathered their data from 420,000 different web sites, ranging from big companies such as Adobe (and many others not yet identified), to small sites that probably have marginal security.

At the Milken conference in May, Clarke pointed out how the Russian government has the capability to conduct cyberwar against the United States, if tensions should ever rise to that level. Russia lacks the economic clout to go toe-to-toe with the U.S. over sanctions, like those being imposed now in response to Russia’s military adventurism in Ukraine. But cyberwarfare could level the playing field. “What they can do, and do it covertly, is a series of cyberattacks to get back at us for sanctions,” Clarke said. “Attacking our financial institutions in ways that we would never be able to prove it was them.”

There’s no public evidence anything like that has happened, but it is assuredly a consideration as President Obama and European leaders consider how tough sanctions against Russia ought to be. It’s also likely Russia could conduct more aggressive cyberwarfare in Ukraine itself. Up till now, Russia has held back, perhaps because it doesn’t want to reveal its capabilities, invite retaliation or appear to be escalating its support for Ukraine separatists.

Whoever the attackers are, cybercrime and more sinister variations backed by foreign governments have become a major problem for American companies, imposing an annual cost of at least $100 billion per year. The White House has singled out economic espionage conducted by units of China’s People’s Liberation Army as a particular threat to U.S. firms. Hackers from China, Syria, Iran and other countries have also attacked a variety of U.S. companies, including media giants such as the New York Times, CNN and the Wall Street Journal, in fairly obvious ways that might best be described as online vandalism.

There’s one cyberpower that tends to stay out of the headlines: the United States. While Chinese and Russian hackers might be good, they do tend to get caught. The best hackers are the ones who go completely unnoticed.  And that is why everyone needs their own protection.  The United States is not going to protect you.  The Police cannot even arrest these guys.  And they will not stop.  It is on you.  You must take proactive steps to protect your identity. is the only company in the country that puts BLOCKS on your accounts and covers ALL ID theft (not just financial.  Visit them today at (or call 1-800-664-5936) and see the difference. 

Provided by and Rick Newman of Yahoo Finance. 

Medical Identity Theft: Low-Hanging Fruit for Criminals

Your keepmyID Identity Protection service (for only $19.95-25.95/month) will cover restitution if you become a victim of Medical Identity Theft.

Julia Dahl at CBS News recently published a great article about the alarming increase in Medical Identity Theft.  She reported these key points:

  • The number of victims grew to 1.85 million in 2013- a 19% jump from 2012
  • There is no easy way to detect this fraud.  (Credit monitoring won’t help)
  • There is no central source to contact to alert healthcare providers
  • Victims spent an average of $18,000 in fees for restitution
  • The impact is beyond money: It may result in misdiagnosis

Here’s the full article:

Medical identity theft can threaten health as well as bank account

Anndorie Sachs had her life turned upside down when authorities showed up at her door in Salt Lake City and threatened to take her four children away – all because another woman had stolen her identity and given birth to a baby who tested positive for drugs.

When CBS News first reported her story back in 2006, it was estimated that 200,000 Americans each year were the victims of what is called medical identity theft, but in the years since, the problem has gotten dramatically worse. According to a recent report by the Ponemon Institute, an independent research organization specializing in privacy and security issues, the number of victims grew to 1.85 million in 2013 – a 19 percent jump from the year before.

“In the criminal world, medical identity theft is now the low-hanging fruit,” says Ann Patterson, the program director of the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance, which sponsored the Ponemon report.

Patterson told CBS News’ Crimesider that while financial institutions like banks and credit card companies have created protections for their account holders, the health care industry lags behind, making medical data particularly vulnerable.

And unlike bank or credit card fraud, which can be detected with a credit report, there is no easy way for people to know when their identity has been stolen and used to get medical services.

“Typically, people don’t discover they’ve been victimized until there is a bill that goes to collections. And it could be that the damage is already done to your medical file,” says Steve Toporoff, an attorney in the division of privacy and identity protection with Federal Trade Commission.

According to Marie-Helen Maras, an associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the author of “Computer Forensics: Cybercriminals, Laws and Evidence,” thieves can use your personal information to get health insurance in your name, obtain prescriptions, even check into the hospital to give birth or have surgery.

“The impact of medical identity theft can be even more dire than financial identity theft,” says Toporoff.

Yes, you might be billed for a procedure you didn’t actually get, but that’s not the only potential consequence. You could also end up being given the wrong blood type if you’re in a car accident, or lose your insurance coverage because someone else maxed out your benefits. According to the Ponemon report, 15 percent of the medical identity theft victims surveyed reported that the theft had created misinformation in their medical records that led to a misdiagnosis, and 14 percent said they experienced a delay in care.

Because there is no central repository for medical data, there isn’t a single place to alert health care providers like doctors and hospitals that you’ve been victimized and that someone might be masquerading as you.

Victims have to go provider by provider and wait until it pops up again,” says Eva Velasquez, the president and CEO of the non-profit Identity Theft Resource Center.

According to the Ponemon report, victims of medical identity theft spent an average of just over $18,000 in legal fees; payments to healthcare providers; and other related expenses to get their financial and medical records straightened out after being victimized.

To make matters worse, the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance’s Patterson says that police don’t tend to investigate individual instances of medical identity theft; instead they focus on finding patterns in an area that might lead to an organized crime group.

“Police aren’t necessarily going to put resources toward investigating the $5,000 surgery you didn’t have,” she says.  So, if a lone thief steals your identity and starts using it to get medical care, chances are he or she could get away with it – at least for now.

Patterson says the one area of medical identity theft where law enforcement has taken significant action is Medicare fraud, because it involves taxpayer dollars. She told Crimesider that she hopes the health care industry will band together and tackle the growing problem.

© 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Identity Thief Convicted

Identity (ID) Thief Sent to Prison

The truth is that we usually do not catch the identity thief.  They are overseas, online, or merely so submerged we can never find them.  Relying on the police or government agencies to protect you is a false hope.  You must take measures yourself; measures like getting ID theft protection and/or ID theft insurance.  Make sure they block ID theft, and don’t “monitor” it.  If they use the words “credit monitoring,” red flag, run.  Do not sign up.  Make sure they cover all of ID theft and not just financial – that includes Financial ID theft, Child ID theft, Elderly ID theft, Family Fraud, Tax Return Fraud, Benefits Fraud, and Criminal Liability.  Do not settle for less.  Not to take away from the police, as they occasionally do apprehend these thieves.  For example, today, U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander sentenced Tavares Davon Miller, a/k/a “Tavon Jackson,” “Tavon Miller,” and “Ooh,” age 30, of Baltimore, Maryland to 75 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiring to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, in connection with a scheme to use the personal identifying information of others to purchase motorcycles, electronic equipment, jewelry and other goods. Judge Hollander also entered an order that Miller pay restitution of $105,899.66.

According to his plea agreement, from September 25 through November 1, 2012, Miller acquired the identifying information of more than 10 victims, and used that information to fabricate driver’s licenses and credit cards in the names of those victims, but using the photograph of co-conspirator Monika Hill (where applicable). Miller and Hill traveled to motorcycle dealerships and retail stores in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and Pennsylvania, and used the fraudulent identification documents to purchase merchandise, including electronic equipment, jewelry and clothing, or apply for lines of credit at those stores. Miller and Hill then loaded the motorcycles and merchandise into their vehicle and returned to Maryland. Miller advertised the motorcycles and merchandise for sale over the internet, retaining the proceeds of the sales and paid Hill a fee for her services.

Judge Hollander determined today that the total amount of loss to the victims is $140,462.03.  Monika Michelle Hill, age 34, of Gwynn Oak, Maryland, pleaded guilty to the same offenses and is scheduled to be sentenced on October 24, 2014 at 2:00 p.m.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the U.S. Secret Service, Maryland State Police, the Anne Arundel, Howard and Montgomery County Police Departments, Charles County Sheriff’s Office and Fruitland Police Department for their work in the investigation.

Provided by The Department of Justice and

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