Four years and six months doesnâ€™t seem like a particularly severe sentence for a thief in Washington state who stole 15 peopleâ€™s identities, including four police officers, created fake driverâ€™s licenses, washed checks, and used â€œmulesâ€ to steal sensitive documents, make purchases with stolen credit, and sell the merchandise. The thiefâ€™s attorneys described him as a â€œ38-year-old drug addict who has had medical and mental setbacks and was living in a motel.â€ I donâ€™t know what his mental setbacks are, but all the meth he was doing may have been a contributing factor.
I spoke about this very case at the Merchant Risk Councilâ€™s 2012 MRC Annual e-Commerce Payments & Risk Conference in Las Vegas. I shared the stage with Detective Adam Haas, who investigated the case, and Jon Karl, from device reputation leader iovation, to discuss was â€œHow Device Associations Helped Law Enforcement Tie Multiple ID Theft Cases Together.â€
The thief in this case stole tax records and Social Security numbers from mailboxes and used the stolen information to take over victimâ€™s credit accounts and to create counterfeit checks and fake driverâ€™s licenses, which he used to purchase expensive items as local stores. He sold many of the stolen items on eBay or Craigslist, or simply exchanged them directly for drugs. After being arrested and released pending trial, the thief fled, posted â€œcatch me if you canâ€ on his MySpace page, and continued committing the same crimes. In January, he pled guilty to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Kirkland police detectives received a great deal of assistance from Portland-based iovation. iovationâ€™s ReputationManager 360 service was used to track down the fraudulent credit applications at various retail chains, which originated from a group of computers that iovation linked together within their vast network of more than 950 million unique devices. In addition to nabbing the thief, they were able to help identify other victims within the state who were not yet aware they had been impacted.
In a statement, the Detective commented, â€œThe online digital bread crumbs sniffed out by iovation were critical in tying everything together, leading to a much bigger crime ring than we originally suspected.â€