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Identity theft being investigated by law enforcement

Posted on May 10, 2010 12:00 AM EST

Identity theft affects all current walks of life causing serious consequences for the victims of this growing fraud crime. More and more, social security numbers of innocent victims are falling into the hands of the wrong people. Once a person's social security number falls into the wrong hands, it can seriously affect a person's credit history. South Florida and Miami have become a hotbed for identity theft. In fact, in 2009, in excess of 22,000 identity theft complaints were made in the State of Florida. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Florida has taken over the leader in identity theft, as is the case with Medicare fraud and mortgage fraud. The federal government is taking identity theft cases very seriously. The legislature recently amended the identity theft statute to include more serious charges dubbed aggravated identity theft. Aggravated identity theft carries a two year minimum mandatory prison sentence. If you or someone you know has been charged with identity theft, contact a Miami criminal defense law firm with experience if federal court to assist in defending the case.

Investigations have revealed the social security numbers can be compromised in a multitude of ways. Individuals can gain access to social security numbers from the internet, crooked healthcare clinics, department of motor vehicle employees looking to make a buck, or from the trash. While social security numbers have been used in the past to commit credit card fraud or mortgage fraud, it appears that undocumented workers are paying for the fraudulent numbers to gain work. Even companies are using the stolen numbers to make workers look legitimate. The stolen social security numbers are also being used to commit worker's compensation fraud.

A current case being investigated by the federal authorities involves an 18 year-old college student. The feds don't know how the social number was acquired, but they do know that dozens of blue collar workers have used the number to obtain employment in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. According to reports cities with large immigrant populations have had the largest number of reported identity thefts in the country. Typically, individuals looking for work will pay up to $200 for the illegally obtained social security numbers. The sad part is that the people making the purchases are simply trying to feed their families without considering the long term difficulties being caused to the real social security number holders.

South Florida and Miami have become the recent target of numerous fraud related offenses including credit card fraud, mortgage fraud and Medicare fraud. Now identity theft can be added to the list being looked at closely by state and federal law enforcement authorities. While cocaine trafficking and marijuana grow houses used to be the biggest problem affecting the criminal justice system in South Florida, the court dockets are now replete with fraud related offenses. The problem has become so massive that both state and federal prosecutors' office have created specialized departments better suited to deal with the ever increasing problem. While the fraud related offenses used to carry pre-trial diversion or probation offers, the recent media attention are causing criminal lawyers a difficult time getting their reasonable plea offers even if their client s are first-time offenders.

Teens Get a Harsh Lesson in Identity Theft, The Miami Herald, May 8, 2010.
Categories: Fraud