|By Bill Rankin, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution|
Yet the return, filed a year ago, used the name,
The case, prosecuted here in
"Identity theft has literally exploded, with fraudsters using the stolen information for everything from tax refund fraud to credit card fraud," U.S. Attorney
Anyone with an identity will have it stolen one day, security experts say.
"Identity theft is becoming the third certainty in life," said
Last year, the
Such was the case with the return filed under Holder's name, which the
The two men who obtained Holder's and others' personal IDs from black market Internet sites were able to process a number of fraudulent claims. One victim told the court that his wife was pregnant with the couple's seventh child at the time his identity was stolen, and the false tax return kept the couple from getting their legitimate and much-needed refund.
The scam was carried out by Yafait Tadesse, then a
Tadesse was recently sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison. Abebe is to be sentenced in August.
Tadesse's lawyer, federal defender
The fake returns filed by Tadesse and Abebe claimed refunds for
Fraudulent filing — on the neighbor's wifi
Once federal authorities were alerted that a refund was issued under Holder's name, they tracked the filing to an IP address in Abebe's
The men sought
"A problem is that, with filing taxes, it's all based on the honor system," Siciliano said. "So long as everyone is being honest, there will be no problems. But there are a lot of wolves out there."
Identity theft can be committed a multitude of ways, because our personal information exists on so many databases, including those of schools, government agencies, doctor's offices, hospitals, insurance companies and utilities.
Insiders commit most identity theft, Siciliano said. "It could be an orderly in a hospital, someone in an HR office, a bookkeeper at an accounting firm. It's anybody with access to the data."
Fraudsters then buy the ID information and use it to open lines of credit under unsuspecting victims' names, ruining their credit. It can take months, even years, to clean up such a mess.
Stealing grads' names right off the program
In one example last year, thieves allegedly picked up programs at graduation ceremonies of
The two defendants, Maario Coleman, 27, and
Investigators have identified more than
Coleman and Russell, who have entered not guilty pleas, were arrested
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