Searching for Victims

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Fraud always has victims. Whether unsuspecting targets are readily available or fraudsters have to work a little harder to find them, someone always gets hurt in the end. A story reported on NJ.com details how one repeat offender targeted elderly women to get away with identity theft and credit card fraud.

Apparently, a 40-year-old woman let her fingers do the walking through publicly available telephone directories to find women whose names identified them as elderly. (Anyone with the name Ruth became a target for this woman’s scheme.) She would then call these elderly women and pretend to be someone else, usually a credit card company representative. The fraudster would ask the victims for Social Security numbers and dates of birth, which were then used to add her as an authorized user to their credit card accounts or to create new accounts. (How convenient.) Court records show the fraudster used multiple credit card accounts to spend thousands of dollars in online purchases at stores and in restaurants across New Jersey.

The story also states that the woman committed the offenses while already on supervised release for access-device fraud and identity theft. (Too bad she didn’t receive adequate punishment the first time around.) The judge in the case sentenced her to more than six-and-a-half years in prison for credit card fraud and identity theft. (That included four months for violating her supervised release.) In addition to the prison term, she will receive another three years of supervised release and restitution of approximately $7,000.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that too often, senior citizens are the target of schemes such as this one because the generation was raised to be polite and trusting, making it difficult to simply hang up the phone. This age group also is unlikely to report fraud because they may not realize they have been scammed, or they do and don’t want their relatives to think that they can no longer make sound decisions or take care of themselves. In any case, the judge has put a stop to this con artist’s fraudulent acts, standing up for all of the elderly victims who have been scammed by this type of fraud.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Newark Woman Sentenced to 6 ½ Years for Fraud Targeting Elderly Women,” written by Jason Grant and published on NJ.com on April 22, 2014.

NEWARK – A Newark woman was sentenced on Monday to more than 6 1/2 years in prison for a credit-card fraud and identity-theft scheme aimed at bilking elderly women, authorities said.

Terrell Brunson, 40, had previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Anne Thompson to charges of access-device fraud and aggravated identity theft, authorities said, for a scheme that ran from April 2012 to February 2013.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.