Scam of the day – August 3, 2017 – Deputy sheriff sentenced to five years for identity theft

Despite your best efforts to keep your personal information safe and secure, you are always at the mercy of rogue employees of companies or governmental agencies that have access to your personal information.

Government officials, particularly those in law enforcement have tremendous access to data banks containing large amounts of personal information that, in the wrong hands, can lead to identity theft which is just what happened when Palm Beach County Florida Deputy Sheriff Frantz Felisma was convicted of identity theft.  Felisma was contacted by a criminal looking for personal information about people driving expensive automobiles in order to use that information to make them victims of identity theft.  Felisma’s accomplice provided him with the license plate numbers of cars owned by wealthy people and Felisma  used his access to restricted data bases to provide his accomplice with the Social Security numbers and other personal information of the targeted victims.

Now Felisma has been sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay $175,000 in restitution.

TIPS

There is little that you can do to reduce your chances of becoming a victim of this type of identity theft other than to limit as much as possible the companies and institutions to which you provide personal information such as your Social Security number, which is a key piece of information for accomplishing identity theft.  Many companies and others with which you do business may request this information although they have no real need for this information.  For example, your doctor does not need your Social Security number although many physicians ask for it.  When asked, you should politely offer another form of identification.  Although I certainly wouldn’t advise it, for years I heard that people who did not want to provide their Social Security number to various institutions would give Richard Nixon’s Social Security number.  Out of curiosity I looked up Richard Nixon’s Social Security number through the Federal Death Master Index and found that the number that was floating around on the Internet 567-68-0515 was indeed Nixon’s Social Security number.

Scam of the day – January 28, 2013 – Fiscal cliff scam

Without even touching the story about how Congress repeatedly dealt or refused to deal with the so-called fiscal cliff as being a scam, a very real scam has emerged from the legislation that prevented the country from going over the fiscal cliff.  The real legislation dealt with many different things and the public is not generally informed as to many of the specifics of this voluminous piece of legislation.   Scammers, as usual, are taking advantage of this lack of precise awareness by the public of the exact details of the legislation and are contacting people through emails or the phone and informing them that they are eligible for up to $1,000 dollars of federal funds to be applied toward utility bills as part of the fiscal cliff legislation.  The email, in particular, looks quite legitimate and appears to come from the Department of the Treasury.  The scam comes in when the scammer indicates that he or she merely needs some information in order to process the payment.  The information, of course, includes the person’s Social Security number, which is a key to identity theft.  If the intended victim indeed falls for the scam and provides his or her Social Security number as well as other information, he or she will not receive any funds from the federal government.   Instead, he or she will become a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

There is no such fiscal cliff program to pay for your utility bills.  Any communication to you that claims otherwise is from a scammer.  The Treasury Department does not communicate with citizens by email or unsolicited telephone calls so if you receive such a communication, you can be confident that it is a scam.  If you have any question about a government program, call your Congressman’s or Senator’s office and you will find that generally, the communications you have received are from a scammer.  Never give personal information such as your Social Security number to anyone who contacts you by email or the phone because you cannot be sure that they are legitimate.