The Federal Trade Commission says that South Florida has emerged with an unwanted distinction. In the past three years, it has become an epicenter for identity theft cases. For each of those three years, it has reported more instances of identity theft than any other large metro area in the United States.
In a recent example of this regrettable trend, a young woman pleaded guilty on Monday to having identity theft. The woman, 25, used her position as a court clerk in Broward County to get the information she sought. She admitted having used her work computer to steal dates of birth, drivers' names and Social Security numbers, along with other personal information. She did all of this while working in the county courthouse's traffic and misdemeanor division, which is located in Fort Lauderdale.
The data she collected was sold to an unnamed co-conspirator, who used it to file a large number of fraudulent income tax returns. Because of these actions, the woman has been charged with two felonies: aggravated identity theft and conspiracy. She pleaded guilty to both.
Her former boss, the Broward County Clerk of Courts, said that woman should serve time for what she did. "Crime doesn't pay!" he said.
Prosecutors are seeking a three-year term. That is less than they might have sought, but the woman gave them insight into how she got the information and that insight may be valuable for future cases. Her sentencing date is January 6.
Identity theft, like any white collar crime, is a serious offense. Anyone accused of it should consider seeking out legal advice and representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney. That way, they can make sure their rights are protected throughout the criminal court process.
Sun Sentinel, "Former Broward court clerk pleads guilty to ID theft" Tonya Alanez, Oct. 28, 2013