Identity theft: Some of the latest news from around the country...

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ID theft can be a dead issue
Apparently it's not that hard for a dead person to open a bank account.

About 400,000 bank accounts were opened last year in the names of dead people, James D. McCartney told an audience last week at Germanna Community College's Fredericksburg-area campus.

The people opening the accounts had stolen the identities of the deceased by buying their Social Security numbers and credit records. It's part of a growing problem of identity theft.

More than 90 million American identities have been reported lost or stolen in the past 18 months, said McCartney, an identity theft expert and author who works for Bearing Point Management and Technology Consultants. more

Woman Gets 5 Years For Identity Theft

A woman who used a stolen driver's license to buy a $419,000 town house has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Prosecutors say 40-year-old Elizabeth Cabrera-Rivera was caught when she refinanced a second mortgage on the home, and the bank sent an overpayment check to the victim. She had also obtained two mortgages for the house in the victim's name and deeded the house to herself. more

Massive ID Theft Bust: 17 Charged in New York

The operators of a New York business have been charged with running a massive identity-theft and money-laundering operation that raked in more than US$35 million over a four-year period.

In total, 17 people have been indicted in the investigation, which centered on a midtown Manhattan company called Western Express International.

The charges were announced Wednesday by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, following a two-year investigation by the Manhattan DA and the United States Secret Service. They are facing as much as 25 years each in prison.

"The defendants participated in a multinational, Internet-based, criminal enterprise ... dedicated to trafficking in stolen credit card numbers and other personal identifiers," the DA said in a statement. more

Seattle Man Pleads Guilty to ID Theft
A man charged with stealing information over file-sharing networks in order to commit identity theft pleaded guilty on Tuesday in federal court in Seattle to mail fraud and to accessing a protected computer without authorization to further fraud. more

Doctors' offices try to ward off medical identity theft
The next time you visit your family doctor, you should be ready to smile and say "cheese."

Some local practices are putting their cameras to work as insurance companies push doctors to find ways to prevent medical identity theft.

About six months ago, Family Medical Associates of Raleigh started taking photos of its patients to add to its permanent electronic file. That way, when someone comes in for an appointment, the administrator can quickly pull up the medical records and confirm that the person seeking treatment is indeed the correct patient, said Janet Spangler, administrator for the practice.

Gynecology & Laparoscopic Surgeons in Raleigh downloads patients' driver's license photos for its permanent medical files. Kimberly Melton, the practice manager, said the office started downloading the photos after receiving calls from insurance companies to verify the identity of patients suspected of fraud.

"We found that a lot of surgery insurance fraud was going on," Melton said.

Medical identity theft occurs when someone uses another person's personal information to get medical services or prescriptions or collect money from medical claims. more

Hacker pleads guilty in spyware identity theft case
A Los Angeles computer security consultant agreed Friday to plead guilty to using computer spyware that he planted in other people's computers to steal identities, U.S. federal prosecutors said.

John Schiefer, 26, was accused of using "botnets" -- armies of infected computers -- to steal the identities of victims across the country by extracting information from their personal computers and wiretapping their communications, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office here. more

Synthetic Identity Theft

Stealing someone's medical records to gain insurance money is a new twist on identity theft.But tonight, there is news of a far more difficult form of identity crime called Synthetic Identity Theft. WBTV's Barbara Pinson is on your side with this report. Instead of targeting just one person, some crooks are taking pieces of information from different people to form a new identity.

This synthetic identity theft is harder to track and can potentially do a lot more damage. more

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