A group of people who are actively collaborating to commit identity fraud is known as an identity fraud ring. These rings are generally made up of two or more career criminals, often including family members or close friends. These rings work by members either stealing a victim’s identity or sharing personal information such as a date-of-birth or Social Security number. Though many fraud rings occur in large cities, there are a surprisingly high number of rings found in rural areas.
According to Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli, recently, twenty people from Pennsylvania and New Jersey were charged as part of a highly sophisticated identity theft ring. The group used several stolen ID’s to open new bank accounts and then negotiate counterfeit and fraudulent checks.
These new arrests were based on information obtained through an ongoing investigation, which began after a previous arrest of a member of the ring, Miokar B. Wehye. This arrest occurred after a nearly year-long investigation after accusations of fraud and identity theft began coming in from Bergen County business owners.
According to Molinelli, the investigation showed that Wehye created a scheme that allowed his group to steal more than $100,000 from their victim’s bank accounts. The prosecution team alleged that Wehye and his group changed their victim’s addresses, opened new bank accounts in their names, and by using counterfeit checks, made illegal withdrawals from these accounts. The group also applied for business loans in the names of their victims.
Though you may think this will never happen to you, the truth is, it can. Anytime you apply for any type of personal or business loan online, it makes you more susceptible to becoming a victim of identity theft. The system of identification that is currently used has flaws, and the Internet makes it quite easy for criminals to get approval when they are not conducting a face-to-face transaction.
Identity thieves can easily change a mailing address and begin diverting documents away from you and directly to themselves. All it takes is a Change of Address request to the US Postal Service, and your mail can be forwarded to a new destination address, and this change may be permanent or temporary. Currently, anyone can change anyone else’s address simply by filling out a form online or even in person at a local post office.
Fortunately, arrests like Wehye’s help police to breakup these rings, and in this case, it led to fraud charges against almost two dozen people, which means there are 20 people who are off the streets and unable to steal your personal identity, for now. Each of these people have been charged with conspiracy to traffic in the personal identifying information of another, which is a second-degree crime. Wehye, and his accomplice Rachel Horace, were charged with receiving a stolen vehicle, too, as at the time of their arrests they had a 2015 Range Rover which was stolen at gunpoint from its owner in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
Though these people are off the streets, there are still dangerous people out there, so make sure you remain vigilant about your identity.