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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Former Member of U.S. Air Force Sentenced for Identity Theft

A Chicago federal judge has sentenced former U.S. Air Force member Ronnie Allen II to four years in prison for identity theft.  Allen, a 28 year old from Greensboro, North Carolina, used his position in the Air Force to illegally steal an Air Force personnel roster.  The roster contained the private identifying information of approximately 1400 Air Force members stationed in Idaho at Mountain Home Air Force Base.  The personal identifiers contained on the illegally obtained roster included the names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth of the Air Force personnel.

According to prosecutors, Allen distributed the private information contained on the stolen personnel roster with the hopes of profiting financially from the information's dissemination.  The information was then used to file tax returns and fraudulently open financial accounts using the names and other personal identifiers of the Air Force personnel on the list.  It is unclear how many Air Force members were affected by the dissemination of their personal identifiers.

Identity thieves often open credit cards and obtain loans using the names and other personal identifiers of their victims.  The criminals then make purchases using the credit cards and loans.  The charges are never paid, thereby ruining the victims' credit history while the criminals profit without any consequence unless caught.

Forged tax returns are a slightly different version of identity theft and has become more prevalent in recent years.  Instead of opening new financial accounts, the identity thief completes a fake tax return in the name of his or her victim.  This is usually done as early in the year as possible before the victim files his or her real return.  The taxes on the forged tax return are calculated in such a way as to result in a refund, which is then received by the identity thief instead of the victim.  The IRS has been cracking down on this type of identity theft over the past few years, including issuing pin numbers to persons who have been victims in the past to prevent the crime from reoccurring.

While four years seems like a light sentence to me (the damage to the victims' credit histories will last longer than that), it is good to see an identity thief like Allen being forced to spend at least some time behind bars.

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