Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Celebrity Id Theft Common Traits to You

What do you have in common with the famous celebrities
who've also been victimized dating back to 1993?

Identity theft is now getting lots of press. Even our
U.S. Congress finally woke up and started the legislative
process in 2005 to address this crime now that it effects
most Americans regardless of income, social standing, &

But, let's roll back the clock a few years ago as we
take a look at famous celebrities who were high
profile identity theft victims and how those same
methods used then are still being used against all
the rest of us who actually work for a living.

Just that it's faster for the Internet enabled
identity thieft to conduct his research and piece
together your confidential profile.

And to those who would minimize the impact of identity
theft reported cases,consider that even if it's only
one victim, we feel that's too many if that unfortunate
individual happens to be you or a loved one who had
personal information exposed or abused through no fault
of their own.

Question: What would you have in common with the
following celebrities?

  • Oprah
  • Tiger Woods
  • Warren Buffett
  • Mel Gibson
  • Ross Perot
  • Steven Spielberg
  • Martha Stewart
  • Ted Turner
  • Paris Hilton
  • Lindsay Lohan
  • Christina Aguilera
  • And up to 100 others who were targeted by just two
    very industrious identity thieves..

Answer: They were all victims of identity theft!

Meet Identity Thief #1.

Abraham Abdallah, a 32-year-old high school dropout at
the time of his arrest in 2001. Court papers say
Abraham Abdallah had a dog-eared copy of last fall's
Forbes "400 Richest" article, with notations of Social
Security numbers, home addresses and birth dates of
200 chief executives, celebrities and tycoons. They
say he also had more than 400 stolen credit card
numbers, one belonging to a federal prosecutor
according to CBS News.

Further in the story, posing as his victims, he
obtained social security numbers, credit card numbers
and all vital financial records. With that, he contacted
their banks and brokerage firms. Couriers and prostitutes
all across New York City were used to deliver expensive
items bought with the victims' credit cards and accounts
at brokerage houses such as Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns
and Merrill Lynch.

Like most victims even today, Turner and Spielberg
were unaware their identities may have been stolen at
the time of the article.

The scheme started to unravel when Merrill Lynch
executives got suspicious about an e-mail request to
transfer $10 million from an account belonging to
Thomas Siebel, founder of Siebel Systems, police said.

Meet Identity Thief #2.

James Rinaldo Jackson, among other things, a Steven
Spielberg fanatic. Such a fanatic, in fact, that for an
entire year in the mid-1990s, he knew everything
Spielberg purchased on his American Express card
according to MSNBC.

Everything Jackson learned about Spielberg, he learned
while in prison, much of it using a cell phone supplied by
a family member... Just a few calls while in the care of the
federal prison system, and Jackson scored all sorts of data
on Spielberg and about 100 other Hollywood types. All in
a single day’s work.

So, our tip for today is:

  1. Release only your social security number (SSN)
    information to only those few legitimate entities
    which really require it for your benefit
  2. Determine how those entities safeguard your personal
    information and under what exact circumstances will
    they release it to third parties without your consent
  3. Do not provide personal information to telemarketers,
    especially not credit card numbers, PIN #'s, social
    security number, mother's maiden name, or your date of
  4. Establish rigorous passwords for accessing your
    banking, credit card, & utility accounts by using
    upper/lower case/numeric combinations. Change
    these passwords every three months
  5. For online shopping, use a dedicated credit card with
    online statement access and a low limit. For extra
    protection, either have your account number changed or
    take advantage of the cards which utilize a "temporary"
    account number.

As always, check your credit report frequently as well
your monthly bank statements - preferably on-line
backed up with exception alerts to your wireless
phone or easily accessible email.


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