Crime And Criminals Blog - Crimes, criminals, scams and frauds.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Boy Steals Neighbor's Identity.

PARKLAND -- When a ninth-grader from American Heritage High School needed money to pay his cell phone and credit card bills, investigators say he turned to a neighbor for cash.

Unfortunately, the cash came from her personal bank account and the teenager obtained it by stealing Monae Sklenar's identity and checking account information to cover more than $1,100 in bills, said Broward Sheriff's Detective Todd Christie. Authorities nabbed the teen because he had payments sent to accounts registered in his own name, Christie said.

"It's horrible," said Sklenar, 39, whose checking account was raided several times. "I am beside myself with this whole thing."

The suspect, 14, who is not being identified by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel because of his age, was charged with fraudulent use of personal identification, grand theft and petty theft in the October incidents. Detectives didn't arrest him until last week because they had to subpoena phone and credit card records to get his name, Christie said.

The Visa credit card was registered in the teen's name, with his correct address, but he had changed his birth date from 1992 to 1973, Christie said.

Using routing and account numbers he likely obtained from Sklenar's mail, the computer-savvy teen, then 13, first paid off a $135.05 Verizon cell phone bill, Christie said.

After discovering the suspicious transaction, Sklenar closed that account and opened a new one, only to be surprised two weeks later by a $1,037.92 debit against the new account, Christie said. Sklenar said she was stunned.

"The bank mailed me checks, and come to find out, I never got the checks," said Sklenar, a job recruiter. "This person got my new account."

Sklenar said the identity thief also tried debiting money to access several $39.95 and $29.95 porn sites. To prevent future occurrences, she plans to install a lock on the mailbox at her house in the 6800 block of Northwest 75th Court.

Christie said people should keep a close eye on all bank transactions, never leave mail in their box overnight, and shred any documents containing personal information.

Identity theft affects approximately 10 million Americans and costs billions each year, said Sheriff's Sgt. Jeff Cirminiello.

"The reason why this is important is that a [teenager] is able to steal someone's identity and pay their own bills," he said.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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