Sunday, June 24, 2007

ID Theft Victim puts her Evil Twin back on probation in San Francisco

San Francisco's Hall of Justice

Identity theft victims often get pretty frustrated after being accused of being deadbeats by collection agencies, or even being charged with a crime they didn't commit.

Trying to seek justice seems to do little good, either. Law enforcement rarely has the resources to investigate individual cases, unless an identity thief is caught "red handed."

Mike Weiss (San Francisco Chronicle) did an interesting article about a victim (Karen Lodrick), who caught her evil twin, Maria Nelson.From the Chronicle story:

The only other time Lodrick, a 41-year-old creative consultant, had seen that particular coat was on a security camera photo that her bank, Wells Fargo, showed her of the woman who had stolen her identity. The photo was taken as the thief was looting Lodrick's checking account.

Now, here was the coat again. This woman -- a big woman, about 5 feet 10, maybe 150 pounds -- had to be the person who had put her through six months of hell and cost her $30,000 in lost business as she tried to untangle the never-ending mess with banks and credit agencies.

During the pursuit -- Karen confronted Nelson, who had noticed she was being followed -- asking her to wait until the Police arrived. Nelson informed her she couldn't wait for the Police because she was on probation.This might be one of the more honest statements Nelson has made in the recent past.

In fact, Nelson has eight previous convictions for fraud, and is on probation for one of them! She also had a warrant for her arrest in Yolo County, which is about 2 hours North of San Francisco.

Shortly after this confrontation, Nelson dumped a wallet in a trash can. Here is what it had inside:

In front of West Coast Growers, she dropped a wallet into an abandoned shopping cart. Lodrick, still after her, picked up the wallet -- also Prada -- and found an entire set of identification, including credit cards, a Social Security card and a debit card all in the name of Karen Lodrick.

Later, when she returned to the bank that had been her original destination that morning and took possession of the lost driver's license, it was a perfect forgery -- with a hologram and a California seal -- and it had Lodrick's name but Nelson's photo and physical characteristics.

Because of Karen's individual efforts, the San Francisco Police responded, and Nelson was apprehended.

Eventually, she was convicted, but this probably did little to give Karen satisfaction for everything she went through.

At her sentencing, Nelson showed little remorse, smirking and waving at Karen. And why not, despite her long criminal record, Nelson received 44 days (time already served) and yet (another) three-year probation.

Karen was able to make a statement at Nelson's sentencing, where she said:

I can't believe it. I went through six months of hell, and she's going to get probation? She was on probation when she victimized me. Obviously, probation's not helping.

Chronicle story with more detail, here.

It's pretty obvious why Nelson was smirking, committing identity theft is relatively easy, the consequences are pretty lacking, and it pay's well.

So far as the ease common criminals can obtain all sort of counterfeit identification documents, I have a lot of information how bad a problem this is, here.

The abuse and lack of controls on certain technologies have made counterfeiting pretty easy to accomplish. Likewise, the ease in with credit is issued, makes committing identity theft a pretty lucrative venture.

I did a post about how easy it is for criminals to use someone else's credit, here.

Where do you think the millions of illegal immigrants get the necessary documentation to obtain employment?

Of course, illegal immigrants aren't the only people using these documents.

Counterfeit documents are distributed by organized crime gangs, who sell them to ANYONE with the money to buy them.

As long as the consequences for identity theft remain minimal, we are going to see a lot of good people like Karen, go through hell.

When are laws going to start protecting the people, paying all the taxes to enforce them?

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