When you think about a shopping spree, you usually envision a carefree outing to the mall where a lot of money is spent on things you may or may not need. (The term tends to have a negative connotation because it is associated with spending more money than you have.) What’s even worse is when an identity thief steals your personal identification information, opens multiple credit card accounts in your name and proceeds to use your money on a shopping spree unbeknownst to you. A Department of Justice press release details the story of a Florida man who was caught trying to purchase stolen identities with the intent to obtain credit cards for making purchases, withdraw money and file fraudulent tax returns.
The press release states that the man was caught by an undercover U.S. Secret Service agent attempting to purchase several packages including the name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, driver’s license number, bank account number, bank routing number, place of work and email account information for 100 victims. The undercover agent was posing as a Vietnamese national who was a well-known vendor of stolen personal identification information. (In fact, the defendant had previously made several purchases from this criminal. The undercover agent must have been a really good look-alike.)
The 36-six-year-old man who attempted to purchase the stolen information pleaded guilty to one count of attempted access device fraud. He received a prison sentence of 27 months and was ordered to serve two years of supervised release.
The press release also states that for nearly six years, the Vietnamese national allowed more than 1,000 people worldwide to access databases that contained personal identification information. He also facilitated more than three million database queries and sold more than 150,000 packages of personal identification information that would allow criminals to assume the identity of other people. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud, identification fraud, fraud in connection with access devices and in a separate indictment, he also pleaded guilty to four counts of computer fraud.
Congrats to the U.S. Secret Service for catching these two criminals. There’s no doubt their fraudulent actions caused a lot of frustration for the victims involved. Two things are for sure – there won’t be any more covert spending sprees, and there is definitely nothing carefree about serving out a prison sentence.