Florida, ID theft ring busted

Last week Sumter County Sheriff’s Office busted a 3 people ID theft ring in Gainesville Florida.
This wasn’t very sophisticated scheme, 2 homeless and a young guy with laptop and a custom id card printer. Homeless woman, wearing a poorly fitted wig that itself catches attention tried to cash a worthless check while the homeless man was waiting in the bank parking lot outside. This reminds me a Seinfeld episode where Newman and Kramer tried to run a rickshaw business using homeless as drivers. Looks these con artists were equally successful.
Allegedly Jessica Renee Lega, 31 shown in Bank of America branch in late Friday afternoon, she was wearing the poorly fitted wig. She was recognized by the bank staff as the same woman who tried to cash a check the day before. At that time she wasn’t wearing a wig and she used different Colorado ID card with another name. Security cameras also recorded Sammy Wayne Langford, 42 waiting in a car in front of the branch both times the woman visited the bank.
Upon the couple arrest Lega was charged with two counts of criminal use of personal identification information, two counts of organized fraud and one count of grand theft while Langford was charged with two counts of organized fraud.
During the interrogation investigators found out that Lega and Langford were hired by another individual to commit the fraud. After the warrant was granted by the judge detectives raided an apartment where 21 years old Cody Len Jenkins resided. Police secured a laptop, plastic card printer, card reader and encoder along with some storage devices. Jenkins was arrested and charged for organized fraud and possession of instruments for counterfeiting driver’s licenses and ID cards.
While the story could be a script for class B comedy it also shows how little is needed to attempt a fraud and how determined some individuals could be to commit it.

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night club photo and official id badge recall

A photo taken at a nightclub has caused a lot of trouble for Cudahy Sheriff. The photo presents a women in a local nightclub smiling, holding two guns and wearing a badge that resembles the Sheriff’s one.
The photo emerged following three city officials arrest by FBI on bribery charges. While the Sheriff’s office spokesman Steve Whitmore said timing between these events and id badge recall was purely coincidental the solution has been widely criticized for years.
At this point you may wonder what badges are we talking about. Let’s go back few years. The idea of giving away badges to civilians is little over a decade old; initially it was supposed to be special reserve of elected officials who would get a custom id badge using the same design as sheriff’s deputy except the label saying ‘city official’. The goal was to improve community relations and security in the neighborhood. Noble idea, right? Not necessarily, critics said from the very beginnings. Corruption and credentials use abuse have been the primary concerns.
In result Attorney General Jerry Brown has issued a warning that the badges might help to impersonate law enforcement officers. The warning was issued in 2007.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department office spokesman Steve Whitmore said the recall action took so long due to bureaucracy got in the way of implementing the recall. Around 200 badges have been recalled.
As we write about law enforcement officer impostor stories it becomes clear that official badges need be given out very carefully and possession monitored as the impostors can be very determined in getting credentials.

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Qatari minister reminds about smart ID card importance

Colonel Abdullah Saad al-Buainain, the director of Nationality and Travel Documents department reminded Qatar residents to take good care of their national smart ID cards. ID badge holders should keep the documents in safe place and use photocopy where possible (in hotels for example).
In the unfortunate event of the card being lost or stolen the holder should immediately notify the Nationality and Travel Documents department which would mark lost card invalid and issue a replacement.
Why is Qatari smart id card so important? Well, mostly because it’s very useful. The national smart card program was launched in 2010 for citizens and in 2011 for expatriates. Thanks to the document its holder get wide access to government services online.
Using government portal Hukoomi a resident can issue, renew, cancel and reactivate Residence Permit; get Travel Permit and apply for Return Permit (in case of overstay abroad). The portal also allows for renewing driver’s license and getting a replacement for lost or stolen one. Doha International Airport offers smart card holders eGates access for arrival and departures.
While the card offers a lot of features making life easier it also may cause identity theft risk when it gets into wrong pair of hands. Card use is protected by PIN numbers but people often write it down somewhere in the wallet so in case the whole wallet is lost the a dishonest founder of thief will get same access to the government services as the rightful owner would.
These are the reasons for watching Qatari smart id cards as closely as credit and ATM cards.

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jail time for getting id cards to illegal aliens

Houma, Louisiana based, 41 years old Holly Calva was sentenced to 33 months of prison time last week by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth E. Foote in federal court in Lafayette. Additionally one year of supervised release will follow the jail time.
The woman was arrested back in October 2011 by Louisiana Police and Homeland Security Investigative Division. Upon arrest she was charged for unlawful production of fraudulent documentation for identification purposes and filing false public records.
Allegedly Calva managed to assist over 4oo illegal aliens in getting Louisiana state id card charging $400 each client for assistance. She would provide proof of residence for the applicants using her own address and act as a Spanish translator in the Office of Motor Vehicles (OMV).
She admitted to lie when she said OMV staff that she worked for a company bringing seasonal work force explaining unusually high level of accommodation under single address.
The case shows how high is the demand for legitimate identification among illegal alien population. With the demand price of $400 a piece just for an id badge supply will surface quickly. Immigration enforcement agencies need to investigate illegal aliens as well as people who try to take advantage of these people desperately looking to somehow secure their stay in the US.

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Georgia new id card causes delay

Georgia is another state which became REAL-ID compliant effective July 1st 2012. Real-ID act is a legislation that passed the Congress in 2005 as a result of security improvements after 9/11 terrorist attack. The ruling sets requirements for application for identification cards and driver’s licenses . Since the beginning program faced delays and deadlines have been rescheduled multiple times.
For Georgia residents couple of changes took place in the way of dealing with Department of Driver Services (DDS). All new applicants as well as first renewal or reinstatement applicants after July 1st 2012 need to come to the Customer Service Center in person. All applicants regardless if they currently hold identification document issued by DDS or not need to prove their legal presence in the United States by bringing US citizenship document (Birth Certificate or Passport) or for non-US citizens proof of legal presence in the country such as Permanent Resident Card or Visa. Also you now have to prove your Social Security Number with the actual card not just provide it. Address proof count was raised from 1 to 2.
DL and ID design introduced in 2010 remain the same with just white star in gold circle added in the top right corner, price schedule also remains unaffected with these changes.
Media reported long lines on the first days new law went into force. Few factors aside from new regulations contributed to the service centers congestion. It is holiday week with Wednesday off and DDS offices are off on Mondays so Tuesday became naturally a busier day because of all that. Additionally heat wave has hit most of the East Coast this week making people more impatient.
As in other states after initial frictions situation should come back to normal after couple of rush days.

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Fast ID card for elections

Local elections took place in Romania on June 10th. The elections originally were supposed to be conducted with legislative elections also taking place in 2012 but the Constitutional Court decided against that option.
Election was won by Social Liberal Union (Uniunea Social Liberală) by over 20% margin over the next competitor Democratic Liberal Party (Partidul Democrat-Liberal). The results was interpreted by the commentators as a strong sign of support for the government led by Victor Ponta ahead of legislative elections taking place in November this year.
Turnout is estimated at around 40% out of 18 million registered voters which is within average for this kind of elections in Romania,
Local elections mean test for all level of local government, mayors for towns and villages, county and municipal councils as well as presidents of county councils.
In Romania, similarly to most of European countries government issued identification is required to cast a ballot. Most popular form of identification is the national id card which is a mandatory to every citizen over the age of 14. During the week preceding the elections Romania residents could take the advantage of faster service when applying for the documents for the first time, updating information or replacing a lost one. Due to elections all id card related matters were processed in one day, often during the visit in the office while it normally takes up to a week.
Romania is planning to introduce Electronic Identity Card but original schedule to launch the program in 2011 has been delayed.

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alleged cannibal killer caught when looking for id card

Luka Rocco Magnotta was on the top for 10 days when police was chasing him around the world for allegedly killing, dismembering and eating his gay lover in Montreal, Canada.
The story turned shocking when two major Canadian parties received foot and hand of suspected Magnotta victim, 33 years old Chinese student of Concordia University, Lin Jun who was likely to be his lover. During the investigation a video was found on the internet showing Magnotta killing, dismembering and sexually abusing Jun’s dead, limbless corpse.
Thanks to the video material Police quickly identified Magnotta, 29 years old Montreal resident, former gay porn actor and model. In the surrounding of his residence Lin’s corps was found. Magnotta himself was missing and traces have been found that left the country most likely for Europe. Canadian Police contacted Interpol and started to search for Magnotta in 190 countries around the globe.
He was quickly spotted in Paris and recognized on security cameras, he indeed spent couple of nights in surroundings of Paris, France. When French media announced his cell phone was located by the police he threw it away and boarded bus to Berlin, Germany.
While in Berlin he tried to obtain and id card; he was caught when he was recognized in internet cafe. He was browsing internet for content about himself and only use hoodie and sun glasses for cover. Extradition from Germany to Canada paperwork is in progress.
Looks like another psycho after Breivik desperately looking for public attention. Let’s hope he won’t get it this time.

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ID thief sentenced

Manteca, California resident, 33 years old Matthew Gene Ballard, was found guilty of mail fraud, bank fraud, credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft. Sacramento federal court sentenced the man for five years and one months of jail time; additionally he would be under supervision release for 5 years after prison release. The court has also ordered Ballard to pay restitution to the victims of his deeds.
His crime scheme was simple, he opened a mailbox in Modesto United Parcel Store in Modesto and used it as correspondence address for his fraud activity. Credit cards and identification documents obtained for the identity theft victims would arrive at the mailbox. From January to June 2011 he managed to stole identity of over 50 people.
Ballard got arrested when driving a rented BMW on June 26 2011; he used one of the fraudulent credit card at the rental place. At his residence the investigators secured high quality id card printing equipment, fake id cards issued for many of his victims but with his photo, magnetic stripe encoders and proprietary financial institution scanner.
Yet another case of identity theft, usual in most ways, maybe little more sophisticated methods used. Usually getting a state identification documents with another person’s photo is not easy. It’s unlikely that rather high sentence would deter other con artists from looking for easy money. Best protection you can get is to monitor your credit. Every lending institution inquiry is reported to your credit, hard to miss thing if you monitor your credit.

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Virginia voter id bill, id card for everyone

Virginia, like many other states during past 2 years, has passed voter id legislation. The law requires to produce identification in order to cast a ballot in elections. Virginia different than most states which passed similar legislation has a broader scope of accepted documents and doesn’t require photo identification. The list of documents eligible for voting include Social Security cards, Virginia DMV issued driver’s license, Virginia non-driver photo id card, a copy of a current utility bill, bank account statement, government issued check, a paycheck showing the voter’s name and home address, or a valid Virginia college student ID card.
Another difference between Virginia and other states implementing new election came up when the Governor Bob McDonnell signed the bill. He ordered that every registered Virginia voter would receive a free voter id card. While the action addressed bill opponents on voter discrimination grounds it raised high cost concerns. The operation of sending the cards approximately 4.7 million voters registered in Virginia is estimated to cost $1.3 million.
Virginia unique solution to make sure nobody is excluded from voting due to law change sets a precedence in voter id bill push. While costly it might help to defend the legislation in the court should it be sued.

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Demi Moore and Bruce Willis daughter fake id card

Scout Willis, 20 years old student of the Brown University, was arrested yesterday in Union Square, New York City around 7PM. Allegedly she had an open can of Pakistani beer and when asked by a policeman to produce identification she flashed New York non-driver id card for the name of Katherine Kelly. When the officer kept questioning she finally shown her real California state issued id badge and admitted the other one was give to her by a friend and she doesn’t know the actual holder.
Willis was charged with two misdemeanors, criminal impersonation and a violation of the open-container law. She was released on bail and will have to return to the Manhattan Criminal Court on July 31 to face the judge

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