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Chapter 5. CRIMINAL IDENTITY THEFT,TAXES... > Deadly Results of Identity Theft

Deadly Results of Identity Theft

In 1999 Liam Youens hired an Internet-based investigation and information service known as Docusearch.com to provide information on a woman named Amy Lynn Boyer. For a fee of only $45 dollars he was able to obtain Ms. Boyer's Social Security number from Docusearch, which had obtained this information from a “credit header” through a credit-reporting agency. A “credit header” is the basic information found at the top of a person's credit report. It contains not just the person's name and address, but also, most importantly, that person's Social Security number, the key to so much more information. Docusearch also provided Youens with Boyer's home address as well as her work address. The work address was obtained through a “pretext” telephone call in which Amy Lynn Boyer was contacted by telephone by a person who lied about the true purpose of the call in order to get Boyer to disclose her place of employment. Pretexting is often done to obtain information used to defraud the victim. In this case, the ultimate result of the pretexting was the death of Amy Lynn Boyer. On October 15, 1999, Liam Youens went to Amy Lynn Boyer's workplace where he waited until she left the building, whereupon he shot and killed her and then killed himself. The police investigation of the crime found that Youens actually maintained a Web site in which there were references to stalking and killing Amy Lynn Boyer. The estate of Amy Lynn Boyer sued Docusearch, arguing that people who obtain and sell personal information are responsible to the people whose personal information is sold if they are harmed as a result of the sale of that information. The New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled that “The threats posed by stalking and identity theft lead us to conclude that the risk of criminal misconduct is sufficiently foreseeable so that an investigator has a duty to exercise reasonable care in disclosing a third person's personal information to a client… This is especially true when, as in this case, the investigator does not know the client or the client's purpose in seeking the information.”[1]

Jury Duty

Comedian Norm Crosbysaid that he did not like the idea of trusting his fate to twelve people who were not smart enough to get out of jury duty. Jury duty is a civic duty, like voting, that we should embrace. At least, that is the theory. Unfortunately it would be naïve to fail to recognize that many people consider jury duty an annoyance and a disturbance of their everyday lives to be avoided whenever possible. Identity thieves know this. One identity theft scam involves the thief posing as a court worker placing telephone calls to people. During those phone calls, he tells his victims that the records indicate that the person being called has failed to report for jury duty. The identity thief then asks the potential victims to provide their Social Security numbers and other personal information. And then, as they say, the game begins.



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