|CRIME FROM BEHIND BARS The Case of the Con Turned Con Artis
|Page 1 of 1|
|Author:||Janez [ Thu Apr 22, 2010 2:05 pm ]|
|Post subject:||CRIME FROM BEHIND BARS The Case of the Con Turned Con Artis|
He was already in jail for fraud and other crimes, yet he managed to lead a massive, two-year identity theft and bribery scheme that earned him a separate 309-year prison sentenceâ€”more than twice that of crooked financier Bernie Madoff, and reportedly the fourth-longest in the history of U.S. white-collar crime.
His name is Robert Thompson, and his story is an eye-opening one for consumers and businesses who take the risk of sharing personal information over the telephone.
It began in a Louisiana state prison, where Thompson began stealing a raft of personal informationâ€”dates of birth, social security numbers, bank account numbers, credit cards numbers, etc.â€”from more than 61 individuals, churches, financial institutions, and businesses. That information enabled him to steal from the victimsâ€™ bank accounts and use their credit to buy big-ticket itemsâ€”like appliances, cell phones, and big-screen TVs. He even attempted to purchase a luxury SUV. Most of these items ended up with his partners in crimeâ€”accomplices inside and outside prison.
The ruses: Thompson used various methods to gather personal information, but one of his tried-and-true ploys involved calling a bank and pretending to be an elderly stroke victim who had been hospitalized. â€œI donâ€™t have my checkbook with me and need access to my bank account,â€ he would claim. Most banks didnâ€™t fall for it, but some did. Thompson also called individual victims directlyâ€”sometimes saying he was a state trooper who needed to verify personal details after an identity theft arrest.
The operation: Thompson initially made his calls on prison phones. Knowing he could only make collect callsâ€”in accordance with prison rulesâ€”he had his outside accomplices obtain three-way calling services on their personal phones, accept collect calls from Thompson, and dial whatever number he wanted. Since many of the calls were long-distance, he also contacted phone companiesâ€”using a phony identityâ€”and had those calls charged to the accounts of various churches.
Eventually, prison officials got wind from us of what Thompson was doing, and he was transferred to a special lockdown area in order to keep him away from the phones. But he paid a $10,000 bribe to a corrections officer assigned to his cell block to use the officerâ€™s personal cell phone. So his shenanigans continued.
Thompson also had his accomplicesâ€”including a former guard he met at another prisonâ€”withdraw money from the phony bank accounts he had set up, pick up merchandise he had ordered, and/or let their home addresses be the delivery points.
The FBI entered the picture in mid-2006 after being contacted by a car dealership that had $50,000 stolen from its bank account. After an extensive investigation, we identified Thompson as the culprit. At least eight of his co-conspirators also have been charged as part of the overall investigation, which was worked closely with state and local law enforcement and corrections officials.
But old habits die hardâ€”after pleading guilty and expressing remorse for his crimes during a 2009 court appearance, Thompson was back working the phones the very next week. The judge had little sympathy during Thompsonâ€™s sentencing.
The case is a lesson for us all. â€œBe crime smartâ€ when it comes to sharing personal informationâ€”yours or someone elseâ€™s. Donâ€™t give it out over the telephone unless you have verified the identity of the caller.
- Common Fraud Schemes
- Press release
|Page 1 of 1||All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]|
|Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group