In a press release dated September 13, 2013, the Department of Justice (DOJ) office of U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, Joseph Hogsett and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced the arrest of 18 defendants in an ID theft scheme. According to the press release, the scheme “involved the use of stolen Social Security Numbers (SSNs) surreptitiously marketed as Credit Profile Numbers (CPNs) to fraudulently apply for dozens of car loans.”
Dozens of local businesses were victimized and innocent consumers across the U.S. had their identities stolen. Hogsett said the rate of ID theft is growing and his office and federal agencies have increased their efforts to thwart the threat.
Robert Jones, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge of the investigation said, “Identity theft wreaks havoc on the lives of innocent victims nationwide.” In 2012, there were more than 12 million identity fraud victims according to the latest Javelin Strategy & Research Report. It takes billions of dollars out of the U.S. economy. Victims of ID theft have to spend countless hours—often missing work—to repair their credit and to obtain new credit cards, bank accounts, drivers’ licenses, etc.
Charges filed against the defendants include conspiracy to commit wire fraud and making false loan and credit applications. The way the scheme worked was one of the defendants would allegedly obtain social security numbers belonging to victims, many of whom were minors. Then, she would do business as a credit repair company by selling “credit profile numbers,” “profiles,” or “CPNs” to another defendant. This defendant, in turn, would sell the CPNs, which were really stolen SSNs, to consumers wanting to boost their credit scores in order to secure loans.
Also the defendants, in addition to selling the SSNs, would coach individuals on how to make themselves look better to creditors by making fraudulent representations to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and by supplying fraudulent SSN cards, mortgage documents, and other identifying materials. One of the defendants also helped some of his customers create fraudulent credit histories so banks would be more willing to grant them loans.
In addition to individuals, at least eight local financial institutions and six local automotive dealerships were victimized. The investigation that led to Hogsett filing charges was conducted jointly by the FBI, the SSA OIG, the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the Carmel, Indiana Police Department, the Lawrence, IN Police Department, and the U.S. Marshals Service.
At the present time, charges have been filed. However, they are not evidence of guilt, and defendants are presumed innocent until proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
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