In many cases,
a criminal steals an identity in order to use the victim's credit. But in most
cases, a child has no credit to steal. So why is child identity theft a growing
|Who steals a child's identity?|
|Experts say a child's stolen identity can be used
1. Immigrants seeking to
establish a legal identity. Detective Brian Money of the Economic Crimes
Unit of the Riverside Police Department in Riverside, Calif., says his department
is quite familiar with the child identity theft problem. Two officers in the department
have children whose identities were stolen.
significant one that comes to mind is a case where one of our officer's 1½-year-old
child was a victim of fraudulent Social Security number use. The thief was using
the child's Social Security number to work and obtain credit," says Money.
He says police had possible addresses for the suspect, who
apparently used his real name. Money decided to create a "ruse" letter,
which is a letter to trick the suspect into coming into the police station.
letter stated that the suspect had been involved in a hit-and-run collision in
our city. I asked that he come in and bring his vehicle for examination,"
Since he wasn't actually involved in the fake
accident, the suspect willingly came in. The detective gave the suspect a form
to complete that included an area for his Social Security number.
suspect used the child's number and I took him into custody," says Money.
He says the perpetrator pleaded guilty for a felony and is believed to be deported.
A couple of years ago, Utah's Assistant Attorney General Richard
Hamp was prosecuting more than 30 illegal immigrants on mortgage fraud. He, along
with investigators from the Social Security Administration and the Department
of Housing and Urban Development, examined the misused Social Security numbers
and found that some of the numbers belonged to children.
thought there must have been other ways that the kids' Social Security numbers
were compromised," says Hamp.
So he compared the children's
Social Security numbers in the state's public assistance database, which is less
than 1 percent of the population, with workers in the state's work force database.
"We ended up with 200 kids under the age of 12 whose
numbers were misused by someone in the work force," says Hamp.
investigation started "Operation Protect the Children," which targets
identity theft against kids in Utah through a joint investigation with the attorney
general's office, Social Security Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs
Hamp says when the staff chases down the culprits,
"95 percent of the time it's illegal immigrants."
need the number to get work," he says.