International Identity Theft – Personal Identity Theft
The most personal of the laundry list of International Identity Crime, Personal Identity Theft affects so many U.S. citizens– often without them even being aware of it – that exact numbers are not known. Some officials estimate it is as high as 1 in every 3 Americans who may have been touched in some way.
As often as not, this crime – while appearing to be “local” (affecting an individual here in the U.S.) – has its roots with some highly-organized, overseas criminal organization.
And the purpose? Fraudulently obtain personal identification (ID) information and then use that information – to gain access to bank accounts, credit card accounts, IRA and annuity accounts, insurance accounts, or even U.S. Treasury accounts. Or to gain access to online retail businesses, such as Amazon or eBay. Such stolen ID information might also be used for forged visas or passports – for illegal entry into the U.S.
And the victims of personal ID theft? They are frequently left with a host of issues/problems, such as bad credit ratings, the utter loss of personal savings, being “flagged” by federal agencies such as Homeland Security, unwarranted investigations, family and social upheaval, the ability to work – to name but a few.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has become the “go to place” for identity theft crime. Watchdog federal agencies are also constantly battling this international criminal activity. Among them are the FBI, the Secret Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the DOJ – Criminal Division.
A host of state and local agencies are involved as well – from D.A.s to sheriffs. And internationally, organizations such as INTERPOL, Scotland Yard and International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) are heavily invested in personal ID theft and prevention.
Even with the dedicated involvement of all these groups, successful termination and prosecution of organized criminal activity frequently takes a rocky road. First, it is often a complex crime involving many perpetrators ranging from local to international. Second, jurisdictions change dramatically across local, state and national/international boundaries. Third, punishment and penalties, internationally, often vary from place to place.
U.S. federal authorities have a closetful of mandates to investigate and prosecute international ID theft. Chief among them are the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and, most importantly, the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act (ITAD). ITAD accomplishes four goals:
- Make identity theft a separate crime against an individual whose identity was stolen and credit destroyed. Previously, a victim had been defined solely by the degree of financial loss suffered by a bank or other financial institution. Make it victim-focused.
- Establish the FTC as the U.S. Government’s central point of contact for reporting identity theft by creating the Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse.
- Increase criminal penalties for identity theft and fraud. The crime now carries a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment and substantial fines.
- Close legal loopholes. Previously, it had been a crime to produce or possess false identity documents, but not to steal another personal’s personal identity information.
Powerful mandates. Powerful federal authority. But not enforceable overseas where shadowy international crime rings often operate with impunity. For that enforcement, it’s a matter of trust and faith that a foreign country will treat identity theft with equal seriousness and not indifference. As said, a complex situation – with a lot of variables.
What does happen is that federal agencies come down hard within our U.S. borders. These agencies deal in volume, frequently steamrolling defendants who may also be very real victims – by simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The Blanch Law Firm is fully aware of this. Our firm, with a team of criminal defense lawyers experienced in personal identity theft law, believes our client deserves our full attention and understanding – something government agencies do not provide. We believe in the whole story of our client, not merely government charges and allegations.
The Blanch Law Firm handles cases in the greater New York area, as well as in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, greater Southern California, and Houston, TX.
If you are the focus of a Personal Identity Theft criminal investigation – or if an investigation is pending – contact The Blanch Law Firm today by calling 212 736 3900. Initial consultations are complimentary and confidential.