The first day on a job usually requires a new employee to spend time filling out a mountain of forms containing a lot of personal information. In order to get a paycheck, workers must provide a name, address, Social Security number and a bank account number for direct deposit. Employers are tasked with keeping this information private and protected. According to an article published on WJLA.com, a Maryland-based identity theft ring was responsible for stealing the personal information of more than 600 government employees. Several accomplices with access to this personal information assisted in the scheme, causing victim losses of between $1 million and $2.5 million.
The story states that the stolen identities belonged to government employees who worked for the State Department, the Defense Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. The identity thieves recruited several women with access to the employee information through their employers to provide the victims’ name, address and birth date. This personal information was then used by the identity thieves to make fraudulent drivers’ licenses and to open fraudulent credit card accounts and establish instant retail store credit lines. (And if that’s not enough, you won’t believe what they did next.) The fraudulent identities were used to rent cars, which were then sold on the black market with altered vehicle identification numbers.
One Maryland man was sentenced to 12 years in prison for his crimes against the federal employees and ordered to pay full restitution to the victims. His co-conspirator was given a prison sentence of 10 years for his part in the identity theft scheme. (I like this Judge. Both sentences seem appropriate for the pain and agony they caused.)
In this case, the victims were forced to trust their personal information with individuals, who exploited their personal information for financial gain. Unfortunately, the government employees were helpless once the co-conspirators decided to take advantage of their positions. There is no doubt that these fraudsters will no longer have access to anyone’s personal information or the outside world for that matter while serving out their sentences.