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OREGON NEWS

Identity Theft

Man assumes dead child’s ID for 3 decades, pockets benefits


Story by apnews.com

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Published on September 15, 2021 3:43 AM
 
 
An Oregon man who assumed the identity of a dead child more than 30 years ago Robert Lizaragga, of Gresham, obtained a Social Security number in the child’s name and used that identity as his own from 1991 on
 
PORTLAND, Oregon (AP) — An Oregon man who assumed the identity of a dead child more than 30 years ago, worked under the child's name and later applied for Social Security retirement benefits under his and the child's names was sentenced to two years of federal probation.

Robert Lizaragga, of Gresham, obtained a Social Security number in the child's name and used that identity as his own from 1991 on, according to a federal prosecutor.

Lizarraga, 70, collected double in retirement benefits, having worked under his real name until 1991 and then under the child's name, according to court records.

The Internal Revenue Service also sent him CARES Act checks for both identities, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachel Sowray.

Lizarraga told the judge he went to a courthouse and obtained the dead child's name and birthdate from court records, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. It's unclear if he had known the child or what spurred him to commit the crime.

Man assumes dead child's ID for 3 decades, pockets benefits yesterday PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon man who assumed the identity of a dead child more than 30 years ago, worked under the child's name and later applied for Social Security retirement benefits under his and the child's names was sentenced to two years of federal probation.

Robert Lizaragga, of Gresham, obtained a Social Security number in the child's name and used that identity as his own from 1991 on, according to a federal prosecutor.

Lizarraga, 70, collected double in retirement benefits, having worked under his real name until 1991 and then under the child's name, according to court records.

The Internal Revenue Service also sent him CARES Act checks for both identities, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachel Sowray.

Lizarraga told the judge he went to a courthouse and obtained the dead child's name and birthdate from court records, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. It's unclear if he had known the child or what spurred him to commit the crime.

In June, he pleaded guilty to theft of government funds and making a false statement.

Lizarraga has repaid the Social Security Administration $12,509.60 in retirement benefits that he collected in the child's name from 2017 through 2020 and also sent a $1,200 check to repay the IRS for the extra CARES Act check, according to Assistant Federal Public Defender Michelle Sweet.

Lizarraga said he was sorry.

Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when someone uses another person's personal identifying information, like their name, identifying number, or credit card number, without their permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. The term identity theft was coined in 1964. Since that time, the definition of identity theft has been statutorily defined throughout both the U.K. and the United States as the theft of personally identifiable information. Identity theft deliberately uses someone else's identity as a method to gain financial advantages or obtain credit and other benefits, and perhaps to cause other person's disadvantages or loss.

The person whose identity has been stolen may suffer adverse consequences, especially if they are falsely held responsible for the perpetrator's actions. Personally identifiable information generally includes a person's name, date of birth, social security number, driver's license number, bank account or credit card numbers, PINs, electronic signatures, fingerprints, passwords, or any other information that can be used to access a person's financial resources.

Determining the link between data breaches and identity theft is challenging, primarily because identity theft victims often do not know how their personal information was obtained. According to a report done for the FTC, identity theft is not always detectable by the individual victims. Identity fraud is often but not necessarily the consequence of identity theft. Someone can steal or misappropriate personal information without then committing identity theft using the information about every person, such as when a major data breach occurs. A US Government Accountability Office study determined that 'most breaches have not resulted in detected incidents of identity theft'. The report also warned that 'the full extent is unknown'. A later unpublished study by Carnegie Mellon University noted that 'Most often, the causes of identity theft is not known', but reported that someone else concluded that 'the probability of becoming a victim to identity theft as a result of a data breach is ... around only 2%'. For example, in one of the largest data breaches which affected over four million records, it resulted in only about 1,800 instances of identity theft, according to the company whose systems were breached.

An October 2010 article entitled 'Cyber Crime Made Easy explained the level to which hackers are using malicious software. As Gunter Ollmann, Chief Technology Officer of security at Microsoft, said, 'Interested in credit card theft? There's an app for that.' This statement summed up the ease with which these hackers are accessing all kinds of information online. The new program for infecting users' computers was called Zeus, and the program is so hacker-friendly that even an inexperienced hacker can operate it. Although the hacking program is easy to use, that fact does not diminish the devastating effects that Zeus can do on a computer and the user. For example, programs like Zeus can steal credit card information, important documents, and even documents necessary for homeland security. If a hacker were to gain this information, it would mean identity theft or even a possible terrorist attack. The ITAC says that about 15 million Americans had their identity stolen in 2012.

Sources such as the Non-profit Identity Theft Resource Center sub-divide identity theft into five categories:

Criminal identity theft Financial identity theft Identity cloning Medical identity theft Child identity theft. Identity theft may be used to facilitate or fund other crimes including Illegal immigration, terrorism, phishing and espionage. There are cases of identity cloning to attack payment systems, including online credit card processing and medical insurance.

Identity cloning and concealment In this situation, the identity thief impersonates someone else to conceal their own true identity. Examples are illegal immigrants hiding their illegal status, people hiding from creditors or other individuals and those who simply want to become 'anonymous' for personal reasons. Another example is posers, a label given to people who use someone else's photos and information on social networking sites. Posers mostly create believable stories involving friends of the real person they are imitating. Unlike identity theft used to obtain credit which usually comes to light when the debts mount, concealment may continue indefinitely without being detected, particularly if the identity thief can obtain false credentials to pass various authentication tests in everyday life.

Criminal identity theft When a criminal fraudulently identifies themselves to police as another individual at the point of arrest, it is sometimes referred to as 'Criminal Identity Theft.' In some cases, criminals have previously obtained state-issued identity documents using credentials stolen from others, or have simply presented a fake ID. Provided the subterfuge works, charges may be placed under the victim's name, letting the criminal off the hook. Victims might only learn of such incidents by chance, for example by receiving a court summons, discovering their driver's licenses are suspended when stopped for minor traffic violations, or through background checks performed for employment purposes.

It can be difficult for the victim of criminal identity theft to clear their record. The steps required to clear the victim's incorrect criminal record depend on which jurisdiction the crime occurred and whether the true identity of the criminal can be determined. The victim might need to locate the original arresting officers and prove their own identity by some reliable means such as fingerprinting or DNA testing and may need to go to a court hearing to be cleared of the charges. Obtaining an expungement of court records may also be required. Authorities might permanently maintain the victim's name as an alias for the criminal's true identity in their criminal records databases. One problem that victims of criminal identity theft may encounter is that various data aggregators might still have incorrect criminal records in their databases even after court and police records are corrected. Thus a future background check may return the incorrect criminal records. This is just one example of the kinds of impact that may continue to affect the victims of identity theft for some months or even years after the crime, aside from the psychological trauma that being 'cloned' typically engenders.

Synthetic identity theft A variation of identity theft that has recently become more common is synthetic identity theft, in which identities are completely or partially fabricated. The most common technique involves combining a real social security number with a name and birthdate other than the ones that are simply associated with the number. Synthetic identity theft is more difficult to track as it doesn't show on either person's credit report directly but may appear as an entirely new file in the credit bureau or as a subfile on one of the victim's credit reports. Synthetic identity theft primarily harms the creditors who unwittingly grant the fraudsters credit. Individual victims can be affected if their names become confused with the synthetic identities, or if negative information in their subfiles impacts their credit ratings.

Privacy researcher Pam Dixon, the founder of the World Privacy Forum, coined the term medical identity theft and released the first major report about this issue in 2006. In the report, she defined the crime for the first time and made the plight of victims public. The report's definition of the crime is that medical identity theft occurs when someone seeks medical care under the identity of another person. Insurance theft is also very common, if a thief has your insurance information and or your insurance card, they can seek medical attention posing as yourself. In addition to risks of financial harm common to all forms of identity theft, the thief's medical history may be added to the victim's medical records. Inaccurate information in the victim's records is difficult to correct and may affect future insurability or cause doctors to rely on misinformation to deliver inappropriate care. After the publication of the report, which contained a recommendation that consumers receive notifications of medical data breach incidents, California passed a law requiring this, and then finally HIPAA was expanded to also require medical breach notification when breaches affect 500 or more people. Data collected and stored by hospitals and other organizations such as medical aid schemes is up to 10 times more valuable to cybercriminals than credit card information.

Child identity theft Child identity theft occurs when a minor's identity is used by another person for the impostor's personal gain. The impostor can be a family member, a friend, or even a stranger who targets children. The Social Security numbers of children are valued because they do not have any information associated with them. Thieves can establish lines of credit, obtain driver's licenses, or even buy a house using a child's identity. This fraud can go undetected for years, as most children do not discover the problem until years later. Child identity theft is fairly common, and studies have shown that the problem is growing. The largest study on child identity theft, as reported by Richard Power of the Carnegie Mellon Cylab with data supplied by AllClear ID, found that of 40,000 children, 10.2% were victims of identity theft.

The Federal Trade Commission estimates that about nine million people will be victims of identity theft in the United States per year. It was also estimated that in 2008 630,000 people under the age of 19 were victims of theft. This then gave them a debt of about $12,799 which was not theirs.

Not only are children in general big targets of identity theft but children who are in foster care are even bigger targets. This is because they are most likely moved around quite frequently and their SSN is being shared with multiple people and agencies. Foster children are even more victims of identity theft within their own families and other relatives. Young people in foster care who are victims of this crime are usually left alone to struggle and figure out how to fix their newly formed bad credit. Financial identity theft The most common type of identity theft is related to finance. Financial identity theft includes obtaining credit, loans, goods, and services while claiming to be someone else.

Tax identity theft One of the major identity theft categories is tax identity theft. The most common method is to use a person's authentic name, address, and Social Security Number to file a tax return with false information, and have the resulting refund direct-deposited into a bank account controlled by the thief. The thief in this case can also try to get a job and then their employer will report the income of the real taxpayer, this then results in the taxpayer getting in trouble with the IRS.

The 14039 Form to the IRS is a form that will help one fight against a theft like tax theft. This form will put the IRS on alert and someone who believed they have been a victim of tax-related theft will be given an Identity Protection Personal Identification Number , which is a 6 digit code used in replacing an SSN for filing tax returns.

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