Tuesday, March 30, 2010

ID Theft Court Penalties Getting Hard Core

It's often been said that identity theft crimes are too hard to prosecute -- maybe one in four victims even report the crime to law enforcement, it's defined in too many varying ways, or it's outweighed by heavier crimes such as mail or banking fraud. (See waysandmeans.house.gov) But a recent Miami computer hacking case exemplifies that courts are starting to get hard core.

Prosecutors went for the maximum 25 year sentence for the criminal behind the largest US identity theft ring in history, and the courts nearly went for it -- sentencing him to another 20 years, according to a timescolonist.com article. (Defendant Gonzalez plead guilty in September to another ID theft ring, totaling 35 years possible in prison. AP, March 2010)

Gonzalez's work victimized millions of individuals and cost businesses in excess of $200 million. He admits hacking into Barnes & Noble, Office Max and an unparalleled number of other companies. In all, over 40 million credit card numbers were gleaned, allowing purchases of a Miami condo, a rolex, car and other items he'll now forfeit to the court. (AP, March 2010)

High profile and hard core court penalties for identity theft have been a long time coming, and may or may not act as a sufficient deterrent.

Sue B Martines, J.D.

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  • Deter. Detect. Defend. Avoid ID Theft - www.ftc.gov/idtheft