Mail Identity Theft: 10/28/11-11/4/11

Sumner Police Blotter: Stolen Check
Bonney Lake-Sumner Patch – 11/4/11

(SUMNER, WASHINGTON) “Stolen Check, Fraud-3:25pm: Officers contacted a man at a residence on the 15000 block of 68th St Ct. E. for a report of mail theft. He said he never received his disability check, which usually comes to his mailbox at the end of the month. When he called around, he learned the check was deposited near Seattle. The check was for over $2,000; L&I advised that they received a forgery claim and that it would take up to six months to get his money back.

The check was deposited at the Bellevue BECU by an 86 year-old man. Police spoke with him and learned that his 19 year-old great grand nephew gave him the check to deposit. He told his relative that the check was from a man who owed him money and that he had signed the check over.

The 19 year-old split his time living between Bellevue and Sumner. Sumner Police had multiple contacts with the young man and knew he had been arrested for either using or possessing other people’s credit cards.

The elderly man told police he was not aware that the check he deposited was stolen. He said he only cashed it because the 19 year-old told him that the man owed him money. He gave all the money to the boy and didn’t keep any of it for himself.

The man who had the stolen check did not know the young man and didn’t owe him any money.

Sumner police advised that the 19 year-old should be arrested for forgery and identity theft, 1st degree. Bellevue police attempted to contact the residence but no one was home. The case has been forwarded for follow-up.”

COMMENTS: I hope the 19-year old is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. It’s bad enough to steal a disability check, but then to make your grandpa go and do your dirty work for you? Some people. Best defense is mail security. Both McLendon’s and Fred Meyer in Sumner have high security locking mailboxes for mail-identity theft protection.

Two Duluth Men Arrested For Burglary
Northland’s News Center – 11/4/11

(DULUTH, MINNESOTA) “Two Duluth men have been arrested for burglarizing a home on Sunday.
Duluth Police arrested a 26 and 35-year-old man on Monday for burglarizing a home on the 200 Block of N. 34th Ave. W.

[…] Tools, electronics, and a safe containing personal documents and a social security card were taken.

Police received information that the two suspects were involved in the burglary. They executed a search warrant and recovered most of the items reported missing.

Police also recovered stolen mail from 21 different mail recipients in Hermantown, Duluth, and Proctor, mostly from the Hermantown area. The victims were notified of the recovery of their stolen mail. […]”

COMMENTS: Identity thieves are resourceful. They steal your sensitive information from your wallet, your car, your home, and your mailbox! Protect yourself from the fastest growing crime in the country. Be vigilant with your personal information. Use a security mailbox to protect incoming mail. Do not send checks/bill payments from your mailbox. Bring them directly to the post office or use online bill pay – it’s more secure. Never throw away sensitive documents (mostly what comes in your mailbox) before shredding or otherwise destroying them. Do not carry your SSN on your person. Keep sensitive documents in a safe place. All of these precautions will go a long way in protecting against identity theft.

Fairbanks man sentenced for identity, mail thefts
Fairbanks Daily News Miner – 11/4/11

(FAIRBANKS, ALASKA) “A Fairbanks man with a long list of Interior identity and mail theft victims was sentenced Wednesday at a hearing at the Federal Courthouse in Anchorage to serve 3 3/4 years in jail.

Jeramy James Frericks, 35, must also pay $14,292.32 in restitution to the victims of his crimes. Under an agreement, he pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

In January 2008, Frericks was caught in with a series of 11 state ID cards for different people, all with his picture on them, according to the written plea agreement.

He admitted stealing one victim’s Permanent Fund dividend check as well as using checks stolen from mailboxes and identities of other victims to make purchases at Fairbanks businesses.

He was caught after a housekeeper at an Anchorage hotel noticed a handgun left behind in a room Frericks had been using. The hotel called police and would not give Frericks the gun back when he returned for it. Frericks is not authorized to carry a handgun because he was convicted of felony fraud in 2006.

He evaded Anchorage police in vehicle and foot chases, but was eventually found in a basement. Police found a a wallet with his real ID and the 11 forged IDs in the entry to the basement.”

COMMENTS: Mail theft is one of the easiest ways for crooks to steal personal information for ID theft. Most victims don’t even realize when their mail has been stolen. A PO Box is one solution. Another is a high security locking mailbox. In Fairbanks, there are Mail Boss mailboxes in Spenards and Fred Meyer. That way you don’t have to worry about thieves stealing your mail. Also, NEVER send checks from an unsecured mailbox – bring them directly to the post office or use online bill pay – it’s more secure.

RIVERSIDE: 2 jailed in mailbox, identity thefts
The Press-Enterprise – 11/3/11

(RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA) “A string of mailbox break-ins and identity thefts have triggered two arrests and the recovery of some of the stolen items in Riverside, city police say.

“In some cases, the thieves would pry the rear panel off … individual and community mailboxes, stealing the contents,” Lt. Dan Hoxmeier said in a written statement. “The suspects or their associates would then use personal information found in the stolen mail to obtain credit cards and commit fraudulent purchases.”

Detectives got a break in the case when department store video cameras recorded a man and woman completing a transaction with a credit card that had been stolen from a residential mailbox in the Hawarden Hills neighborhood of Riverside.

After identifying two suspects, police served a search warrant Wednesday along the 4100 block of Donald Avenue.

Arrested at 7 a.m. Wednesday were 42-year-old Rosa Maria Muniz and 36-year-old Steven Ray Stiles, who were booked for investigation of conspiracy, burglary, grand theft and possession of stolen property, jail records show. Stiles also was booked for investigation of gun-related charges involving a sawed-off shotgun found in his bedroom during the search warrant.

The raid uncovered a large amount of mail, credit cards and personal documents believed to have been taken during mail box thefts throughout Riverside and Orange counties, according to the police statement.

To prevent similar mailbox and identity thefts, investigators urge people to report suspicious persons and vehicles, pick up their mail promptly, report all mail thefts, and take part in neighborhood watch programs. […]”

COMMENTS: In Riverside, ID thieves are not only stealing from unlocked mailboxes; they’re also prying open allegedly “secure” mailboxes to steal the mail contents for identity theft. Clearly, it is not adequate protection to “pick up mail promptly”… these thieves are so brazen they may follow postal carriers and casually retrieve mail without arousing suspicions. They best defense is a high-security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss that cannot be easily pried open! The Mail Boss is virtually a postal fortress, and you can find it at your local Ace Hardware.

South Brunswick Police Warning Residents of Mail Theft
Checks stolen from the mailboxes of Kendall Park residents and deposited into a bank account.
South Brunswick Patch – 11/2/11

(SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY) “South Brunswick Police are searching for residents in Kendall Park who may be unaware that they are the victims of mail theft. Over the past two weeks, police have received three reports of people stealing letters from mailboxes.

Police have identified two suspects in the case, whose identities were not disclosed. The investigation determined that the suspects have been stealing checks from mailboxes and then depositing it into a bank account.

There are no other residents in South Brunswick who have reported the theft of mail. Detectives are looking for any residents in the Beekman Manor development who may have had mail stolen.

“We believe we have some residents who have had checks stolen and are not aware of it,” said Detective Ron Seaman via release. “If they are missing mail or checks over the past two weeks they should contact us.” […]”

COMMENTS: The problem with mail theft is that most victims do not even realize when their mail has stolen, as we don’t know what is going to come in the mail from day to day. How long does it take until you notice a bank account statement goes missing? What about those courtesy checks banks send you to write against your line of credit? The fact is the majority of ID theft victims do NOT KNOW how their information was compromised, and mail theft is a leading KNOWN cause of identity theft. This implies that mail theft is really a much bigger problem than anyone knows. Luckily, the solution is easy:

  1. Use a high security locking mailbox that can’t be fished or easily pried open to secure incoming mail.
  2. Never send sensitive mail from an unsecured curbside mailbox. Bring checks or bill payments directly to the post office, or use online bill pay – it’s more secure
  3. Always shred sensitive documents (most of which come in the mail) before discarding them to thwart dumpster divers.

Angels police recover stolen car, mail
Calaveras Enterprise – 11/1/11

(TUOLUMNE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA) “A 19-year-old Tuolumne County resident was arrested Sunday at 7:48 a.m. after an off-duty sheriff’s deputy allegedly spotted him speeding recklessly through Angels Camp, according to a release from Angels Camp Police Chief Todd Fordahl.

Michael Kenneth MacKern was booked on charges of stolen property, identity theft, vehicle theft, reckless driving, driving without a license and vehicle tampering. He was also charged with committing new offenses while out on bail, as there is a pending burglary and possession of stolen property case against him in Tuolumne County.

[…] In addition to possessing the stolen vehicle, MacKern had more than 100 pieces of U.S. mail that were apparently taken from 24 different addresses in Tuolumne County. […] A list of victim addresses related to the mail has been forwarded to the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office for follow-up on those victims. […]”

COMMENTS: Police were able to determine where mail was stolen after recovering mail in the truck. Most victims of mail theft, however, do not realize when their mail has been taken. If you are a Sonora resident, you can protect your mail from would-be identity thieves with a Mail Boss locking security mailbox from your local hardware store JS West Lumber and Hardware!

Nine indicted in identity theft ring bust
KHON2 – 11/1/11

(OAHU, HAWAII) “Authorities believe they’ve nabbed the nine remaining members of an identity theft ring that has victimized 256 Oahu residents and businesses. The nine suspects were indicted by an Oahu grand jury today on more than 150 counts of identity theft related crimes.

[…] “Victims lose their personal information through mail theft, which was present in this case, car break-ins, home break-ins, stealing information from businesses but also dumpster diving,” said Chris Van Marter, Deputy Prosecutor.

[…] Prosecutors believe the suspects stole more than $200,000 over an eight month period starting in May of last year. We spoke with one of the victims, who spoke with us in hopes of warning others to be careful. […]

Prosecutors believe the nine were part of an identity theft ring that victimized 256 people and businesses on Oahu by creating fake ids and counterfeit checks, and cashing them. […]

[…] The identity theft ring bust is the result of a 13 month investigation by police, Sheriff’s deputies, prosecutors, and federal agencies.”

COMMENTS: This article just goes to show you how adept and resourceful identity thieves are at obtaining their victims’ information. They do not discriminate – they will take it however they can get it. Stolen wallets, stolen trash, stolen mail… it doesn’t matter! Home burglaries, car break-ins, standard mail theft, dumpster diving… it’s all the same. They’re looking for checks, bank account statements, whatever they can find.

Prevention is key to protect against identity theft. Be vigilant with your personal information. One thing people often overlook is their curbside mailbox. Do you have a secure locking mailbox? If not, you’re highly vulnerable to the fast-growing crime of identity theft. Mail security is especially important because it is exceedingly easy for criminals to steal sensitive information from the mail, and victims do not even realize when their mail has been stolen. Be smart – protect yourself!

Stolen Vehicle And ID Theft Investigation – 10/31/11

(ANGELS CAMP, CALIFORNIA) “The Angels Camp Police Department pulled over a man for reckless driving Sunday, and found that he was driving a vehicle that had been stolen earlier in the day in Tuolumne County.

The officer also found over 100 pieces of mail that had been taken from 24 residences across Tuolumne County. Arrested was 19-year-old Michael Kenneth Mac Kern. Police say Mac Kern is a transient that has been living in Tuolumne County. […]

Mac Kern faces charges related to possession of stolen property, identity theft, vehicle theft, reckless driving, driving without a license and vehicle tampering.

The Police Department reports that the mail was primarily stolen from the Racetrack Road area of Sonora.”

COMMENTS: Again, to protect yourself against mail-identity theft, don’t leave your mail unprotected in a curbside mailbox. Instead, lock it up with a high-security mailbox like the Mail Boss. That way, you don’t have to worry about someone stealing your personal information and using it for identity theft!

Sacramento woman sentenced to prison for mail theft
Sacramento Bee – 10/28/11

(SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA) “A Sacramento woman is headed to prison for mail theft.

U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. today sentenced Jennifer Lynn Murphy-Oliver, 45, to five years and three months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for possession of stolen mail and possession of 15 or more unauthorized access devices.

According to court documents, Murphy-Oliver possessed more than 200 pieces of stolen mail and more than 15 unauthorized access devices, such as credit and debit cards. The total loss attributable to the stolen mail is more than $70,000, according to a federal Department of Justice news release.

The case resulted from an investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Sacramento Police Department.”

COMMENTS: Restitution while on probation probably wouldn’t work… the only way she’s going to be making any money is via identity theft. Good luck getting a job as an ex-con, let alone in this economy! I don’t know what the socio-political solution is but I do know that identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the country and residents in Sacramento and across the nation need to take precautions. For one, use a high security locking mailbox to protect incoming mail from would-be identity thieves. In addition, never send sensitive documents (i.e. checks, bill payments) from an unsecured mailbox. Instead, bring them directly to the post office or use online bill pay – it’s more secure. And of course, shred or otherwise destroy sensitive documents (most of which come in the mail) before discarding them to thwart dumpster divers!

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