Local identity theft scheme uncovered
by DELANEY WALKER, Banner Staff Writer
Jun 23, 2013 | 2583 views | 0 0 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DETECTIVES Carl Maskew, left, and Mike Hughes, right, of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office separate the various pieces of stolen mail and pieces of personal information found from a recent personal identity theft scheme. Banner photo, DELANEY WALKER
DETECTIVES Carl Maskew, left, and Mike Hughes, right, of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office separate the various pieces of stolen mail and pieces of personal information found from a recent personal identity theft scheme. Banner photo, DELANEY WALKER
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A recent investigation by the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office discovered personal information had been stolen from area residents’ cars and mailboxes.

Lt. Dennis Goins said they suspect around 50 to 60 people have become a victim of the identity theft scheme.

Deputy Paul Allen initially made the discovery following a driver’s traffic violation. He began a drug investigation which led to the discovery of the stolen personal information.

Detective Dewayne Scoggins said he thought the information was primarily being stolen from personal mailboxes.

“It looks like they are stealing mail when it is outgoing, like when you put a check in the mail,” Scoggins said. “They will take that mail before the postman picks it up.”

Mail was also being picked up following deliveries by mail workers.

Scoggins recommended residents refrain from putting any bills, checks or personal information in their personal mailboxes.

He also suggested residents pick up their incoming mail as soon as possible each day.

“Especially,” Scoggins added, “If you are going to receive mail [with personal information].”

Scoggins said information has also been stolen from people’s wallets, purses and compartments in unlocked cars.

Goins suggested motorists always lock their doors.

“Most thieves don’t want to break their way in,” Goins said. “They come up to a car, and if it is unlocked, then they will go into it.”

Information obtained through the mail, driver’s licenses, personal information cards and checks can be used to steal a person’s identity.

“They are converting this information to online [or mailed] credit card applications,” Scoggins said. “They get your information — mail, address, phone number, social security number — and fill out an application for a credit card.”

Applications can often be found in a person’s personal mailbox, sometimes beside the same individual’s bank statement.

Credit cards are not the only items sought with another person’s personal information.

“You can obtain a credit line of any kind,” Scoggins said. “You can go get a loan, you could finance a house or a car, you could get utilities in a person’s name at a different address. There is more than just opening credit cards.”

Goins said detectives would contact each individual victim of the recent personal identity theft scheme following the separation of all the information.

“Then we will have them contact their creditors and check their online credit reports to see if these people have made credit cards in their names,” he said.

Both Scoggins and Goins suggested people use the post office box or drop boxes to send their mail with any personal information.

Investigations are currently ongoing for this case.