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.

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.

Undercover Agents Plundered the Dread Pirate Roberts

Undercover agents Carl Force (DEA) and Shaun Bridges (Secret Service) are facing charges including money laundering and wire fraud after they plundered the Dread Pirate Roberts.

Photo by: Nicolas Raymond

Photo by: Nicolas Raymond

Who is this Dread Pirate Roberts?

Ross Ulbricht, AKA the Dread Pirate Roberts was owner of Silk Road – an online black market.  Silk Road was an internet platform where illegal drugs and other contraband were sold and purchased.  It ran on the darknet Tor, an anonymous network where users could browse, purchase, and sell without being tracked by authorities.  Regrettably for Ulbricht, Silk Road was tracked and about to be taken down…but not before it was plundered first.

Arr, stole his bitcoins they did

Undercover agents Carl Force and Shaun Bridges were both involved in a task force to bring down Silk Road and its creator, the infamous Dread Pirate Roberts (Ulbricht).  Force was working under the alias of Nob, a big time drug dealer and had been corresponding under that alias with Ulbricht throughout the investigation.  During the investigation of Silk Road, Force and Bridges commandeered the account of  Silk Road admin Curtis Green from Spanish Fork, UT that Force had recently arrested and used his account to steal bitcoins from Silk Road users. Ulbricht discovered that 350 thousand dollars’ worth of bitcoins were pilfered off his website and tracked the stolen funds back to Green’s account.

Dead men tell no tales

After speaking with a close confident and assuming that Green was in fact the one who stole from Silk Road accounts, Ulbricht decided that the scallywag must be dealt the ultimate punishment for the theft- death.  Ironically, he hired Nob (Force) of all people to kill Green.  Curtis Green was willing to cooperate fully with the authorities after he was arrested during a setup by Force, and especially when he heard about the hit that Ulbricht put out on him. Force and Bridges worked together with Green to stage the very realistic appearing torture and murder of Green.  Pictures were taken during the spectacle and sent to Ulbricht for confirmation of the hit.  Not only was the Dread Pirate Roberts satisfied, he paid Force a hefty amount of doubloons for the deed. There were 5 other hits by Ulbricht noted during the investigation, however no more evidence has been located.

Scrub the poop deck or walk the plank?

Ulbricht will find out on Friday is he is facing 20 years or life in prison for his kingpin role in the drug trafficking website.  An intelligent young man that used his talents poorly, Ulbricht begged the judge for leniency in an eloquently written, one and a half page letter. Ulbricht will definitely be serving at least 20 years in prison for his crimes, but he hopes to not spend the rest of his life behind bars.  That dream is a possibility seeing how he is not facing any charges of attempted murder. Why those charges are being left out, one can only assume.  It is possible that bringing those charges to the table will put further light on the warped dealings of the federal agents in this case.  So what is to be done for those crooked agents? At this time, both Force and Bridges are looking at federal charges of money laundering and wire fraud. Force is also facing charges of conflict of interest and theft of government property.

Batten down the hatches

Crimes via the internet are quickly evolving and bringing down savvy, curious computer users in its wake.  Dealing with websites that are run off hidden networks is dangerous and very often involve illegal activity.  If you are someone you know has gotten involved in illegal internet activity, contact a criminal defense attorney that understands the laws pertaining to internet crimes.