Do you wonder how people can steal your identity and purchase cars, homes, and student loans? You can see how they can get ahold of credit cards, but medical care and mortgages? These usually require picture identification and yet it happens every day. The case of Suffolk resident Shelia Clark Lewis shows that there are serial fraudsters in our own backyard. In 1999 Ms. Lewis was convicted of fraud in which she obtained a mortgage and a car by using another person’s social security number. In 2007 she was convicted of stealing the identities of military personal for personal gain of more than $180,000 over the course of six years. Now Ms. Lewis has pled guilty to stealing the identities of medical patients to obtain more than $30,000 of property without even using real credit cards. The scheme would involve her using the information to access existing credit lines and then open new ones at various department stores. Once in the store Ms. Lewis would provide cashiers with the victim’s name, credit card number or other information to allow the employee to look up the account and then make purchases. Shelia Clark Lewis is just one story of thousands of criminals utilizing the hard-earned credit of others.
The times we live in now make it even easier for such fraud and theft via the internet. It is imperative that you keep a vigilant watch on your banking, checking, and credit accounts and that you regularly review your credit reports. The sooner you identify a problem, the sooner you can begin to correct it and keep it from growing. To resolve the havoc caused by these criminals is not simply a phone call or a letter, so it behooves you to be vigilant.