Identity Theft in Utah

Identity theft is not a new problem, but it is a growing one in Utah. Glancing at the local booking reports on any given day will show more than one person arrested for having someone else’s information. There are several different ways in which identity theft can happen and reasons that lead people to the crime.

Photo by: Don Hankins

Photo by: Don Hankins

Credit Fraud

Credit fraud is a type of identity theft where the criminal steals another’s identity to fraudulently acquire something that would affect your credit score such as credit cards, loans, or other types of credit. This is what is typically searched for when individuals check their credit report annually.

Wage Fraud

Wage fraud isn’t as easily detected as it doesn’t show on the victim’s credit report. Wage fraud is simply using someone else identity to obtain employment. The victim’s credit is left untouched; however they may face problems come tax time.

Medical Identity Theft

A name, social security number, and insurance information is all that is needed for thieves to use a person’s identity to seek medical care, get prescription drugs, or take money from flexible spending accounts, or to scam the insurance companies themselves. The elderly are frequent targets for medical identity theft as they are more trusting when approached by those posing as insurance spokespersons and they often don’t keep track of their Medicare and other insurance billing online as much as younger generations.

Targeting our youth

While the elderly are common targets for medical identity theft, the newest victims of overall identity theft are young. The newest trend among identity thieves is obtaining the social security numbers for children who have no use for their social security numbers usually until they are of working age. If a young child or even a brand new baby has their social security number stolen, this gives the thieves up to 16 years to use the number, oftentimes undetected until the child starts work or needs a student loan. Teenagers applying for their first jobs or 18 year olds applying for student aid are surprised when they discover on their record are years of wages earned and thousands of dollars in debt racked up.

Why?

There are those out there who make a business are selling or using someone elses identity. They know they are committing a crime and they are well aware that they are hurting the victims of the theft. Unfortunately, there are also those who steal another’s identity because they feel stuck. A good example of this is ex-felons looking for work. Applying for most jobs requires background checks that include previous convictions. Having their past red flagged even though a felon’s debt to society has already been paid makes it difficult to survive in this economy. This can push them to use another’s information just to survive. Other reasons why thieves steal personal information include to:

• Obtain housing
• Purchase vehicles
• Acquire government medical insurance, such as Medicaid
• Get utilities such as water or electricity turned on at a residence
• Open credit cards or bank accounts

Photo by: Flazingo Photos

Photo by: Flazingo Photos

The law on identity theft

Utah code 76-6-1102 states that “A person is guilty of identity fraud when that person knowingly or intentionally uses, or attempts to use, the personal identifying information of another person, whether that person is alive or deceased, with fraudulent intent, including to obtain, or attempt to obtain, credit, goods, services, employment, any other thing of value, or medical information.”

Penalties

Whether for the purpose of hurting others for extra cash or just trying to make ends meet, identity theft is a crime. If the value of the stolen good or information is valued under $5,000, then it is considered a 3rd degree felony. If the amount is for over 5 grand then it is a 2nd degree felony. Although many things have a cash value, others are difficult to put a dollar amount on. For those that are facing charges for identity theft, consult with an Utah attorney to defend you in the crime and protect you against extravagant amounts added that can be added to increase your charges.

Bribing Athletes

Gambling on sports is an illegal activity in 46 states including Utah but bribing athletes is illegal in all 50. Utah Code 76-6-514 states that it is a 3rd degree felony for a person to influence, bribe, or threaten a participant to intentionally not perform properly in their “publicly exhibited contest”.

Photo by: Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar

Photo by: Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar

Increasing your chances for winning, illegally

Knowing the sport and being educated in the stats of each player can help increase a gambler’s odds when placing a bet, but their chances of winning are still slim. More money is lost than gained in sports gambling, otherwise it wouldn’t be such a profitable business for bookies. When knowledge and luck don’t pan out for bettors and they’re left with gambling debt, some may turn toward influencing or bribing athletes.

Rigging a match to lose

According to Collins English Dictionary; “arranging the outcome of a sports match prior to its being played” is known as match fixing. It’s easier to ensure a loss of points or a whole game than to guarantee a win. This is why players are bribed with a hefty payout to throw a game or not do their best while the gamblers knowingly put their money on the opposite team. All athletic events are vulnerable to this illegal activity. Horse racing, cricket, snooker, and basketball tend to be the sports that see match fixing more often. This is because only one jockey or one player, not the entire team, is needed to rig the outcome in favor of the gambler.

Shaving points

Betting on sports doesn’t always involve selecting a winning team. Bookkeepers don’t want all the bets placed on one team or the other. This leaves bookies with a 50/50 chance of losing, so they started what’s known as the point spread. The point spread allows bettors to bet that their team will win by a certain number of points. As long as their team wins by that chosen number or more they win. If they win but it is by less than the chosen number, the bettor loses. With point shaving, which team wins or loses won’t be changed. Instead the athlete or sometimes an official who has been bribed will make sure that the team doesn’t win within a certain point spread that is expected by the majority. This leaves the briber opportunity to bet on the opposing team to lose by fewer points.

Motives for athletes

Besides money, there are other reasons why players will purposely throw or tank a match or a game. Not winning a game during certain times in the season can benefit a team’s standings in playoffs. Losing these specific games can also give teams a better schedule for the following year and allow them a better pick of new players as well. Sometimes, who wins doesn’t matter to either side so teams will agree to tie.

Famous Bribery Scandals

Match fixing is a world-wide problem and there are a couple well-known stories that took place in the United States. In 1919, the White Sox threw the World Series (Black Sox Scandal) and although they were not found guilty, those suspected players were never again allowed to play baseball in the major leagues. More recently in 2007, NBA referee Tim Donaghy was sentenced to over a year in prison for working with the mob, giving them tips on games he was the officiator for. These individuals, and any others who have been caught match fixing have blemished their names forever in the history of sports.

Not worth the bet

Whatever the reason, the ramifications of losing games or points on purpose is against the rules and players risk being suspended, having their reputations tarnished, or worse; being banned from every playing the game again. The players along with influencing gamblers also risk felony charges if there is money exchanged for bribes. For athletes who have found themselves caught up in a match fixing scene or for gamblers who took things a little too far by bribing athletes, an experienced criminal defense attorney should be hired to advocate on their behalf.

Retail Theft in Utah

Retail theft is a growing problem in Utah and other states around the nation.  Shoplifting from any store is against the law, yet many do this knowingly as they either can’t afford an item, or they seek the thrill of the crime.  For whatever reason, these individuals are knowingly committing retail theft.  Besides shoplifting, there are other definitions by law of retail theft that shoppers need to be aware of.

Photo by: Mike Mozart

Photo by: Mike Mozart

Sales at the self-checkout lane

With self-checkout stations becoming more common in stores, it isn’t rare for customers to scan or type in cheaper items than the ones they are taking home.  Ringing in a .50 cent avocado instead of the larger $1 one is still considered retail theft.  This may be done intentionally, or it may be by accident.  Shoppers need to be certain that they are paying the correct price for an item, or find an employee to help.

Price, what price?

Bargain hunters have been known to challenge an overpriced item, only to remove the price tag hoping for a better deal once they reach the register.  According to Utah Code 76-6-602, this deception is considered retail theft, just like shoplifting.  A better solution would take your disputed item with price tag intact to the customer service desk or manager.  It isn’t unusual for them to agree to a lower price to keep a customer happy.

Retail theft isn’t worth it

Depending on the price of the appropriated item and how many previous retail theft offenses a suspect has had, the criminal charges can range from a misdemeanor to a felony.  It doesn’t stop there.  Beyond the criminal charges, stores can likewise file a civil suit for up to $1,000 as a penalty, even after getting their stolen items returned.  If you are facing criminal or civil charges for retail theft, contact a criminal defense attorney to discuss your options on how to proceed with the charges.