DOJ Is Slamming Identity Thieves in Jail for 2 Years

Did you know that if you get caught speeding in a school zone, you’ll get a double or even triple fine? So if a speeding ticket would normally cost you $100, if you speed in the wrong place it could run you $200 or $300.

It’s designed to make you think twice about speeding around kids and people that are more vulnerable and exposed.

Double fines are a good analogy for what it’s like to commit identity theft in 2020.

The US Department of Justice is unleashing a powerful tool to deter would-be identity thieves that are trying to profit off the pandemic – a minimum 2- year jail term.

According to JDSupra, the DOJ is leveraging the federal aggravated identity theft statute, which imposes a mandatory minimum two-year sentence enhancement if the government proves that the defendant “during and in relation to” certain predicate felony offenses “knowingly transfers, possesses, or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person.”

If you steal an identity during COVID19, you’re going to jail for 2 years. No slap on the wrist for you.

The Jail Term Could Apply to Synthetic Identity As Well

And Credit Privacy Number (CPN) users beware. The government could consider Synthetic Identity (use of a stolen social security number) under the aggressive statute as well.

The statute broadly defines “means of identification” to include “any name or number that may be used, alone or in conjunction with any other information, to identify a specific individual.”

These provisions clearly indicate that a synthetic identity would fall under the enhancement which would extend a jail term by 2 years at a minimum.

PPP Fraudsters Were The First To Be Charged With Aggravated Identity Theft

On May 5, 2020, two New England businessmen, David Staveley and David Butziger were the first to be charged with aggravated identity theft when they applied for over $500,000 worth of loans.

David Staveley made the mistake of using his brothers social security number for one of the loans. He was charged with aggravated identity theft for allegedly using his brother’s name and Social Security number to, among other things, apply for PPP stimulus funds.

Mask Hoarder and Price Gouger Was Also Charged With Aggravated Identity Theft

On May 26, 2020, authorities arrested Richard Schirripa of Long Island, New York, a licensed pharmacist. He was known as “the Mask Man,”.

Not only was he charged with hoarding mask, price gouging, lying to federal authorities but he billed Medicare for false claims over a long period of time.

During the crimes, he is alleged to have used the personal identifying information of his pharmacy’s patients and that resulted in the DOJ using the enhanced aggravated identity theft charge in his case.

Frank McKenna is the Chief Fraud Strategist for PointPredictive and a Fraud Consultant based in San Diego California