Identity Theft Begins at Home

Post-it with credit card PIN number in wallet on laptop. Unsafe way to keep PIN number

A Connecticut man who committed identify theft was convicted for a scheme in which he obtained loans and then filed bankruptcy using another person’s identity. Joel C. Riley used a woman’s name and personal information to fraudulently obtain loans without her knowledge or permission. He proceeded to rack up more than $211,000 in debt under the victim’s name. (Unlucky for her.) He then “borrowed” the victim’s driver’s license and recruited another woman to pose as her in order to file for bankruptcy and discharge the bad debt. (Presumably, so he could get more fraudulent loans in the victim’s name later.)

The scheme unraveled when the victim’s credit card purchase was denied due to the bankruptcy, and she contacted the lawyer who filed it. Riley was arrested in May 2018 on charges of bankruptcy fraud, identify theft, and conspiracy. Each charge could have resulted in up to 5 years of prison time. In a plea deal, Riley pleaded guilty to one count of bankruptcy fraud, receiving a two-year sentence in federal prison and three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $211,142 to the financial institutions who made the loans.

It was hardly Riley’s first identify theft rodeo. During his investigation, authorities discovered the Connecticut fraudster stole family members’ identities to repeatedly obtain or try to obtain loans. Not two or three times… but at least 19 times over more than a decade. (Why not require he provide them all with identity theft protection services, which they will no doubt urgently need once he’s out of prison.) Ironically, Riley was working for the Connecticut Judicial Branch at the time of his arrest.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Patch news article, “Wallingford Man Sentenced for Bankruptcy Fraud, Identity Theft,” published Jan. 23, 2020.

WALLINGFORD, CT — A Wallingford man has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for a bankruptcy fraud scheme in which he obtained loans and lines of credit for a woman without her knowledge, according to authorities. Joel C. Riley, 48, was also sentenced to three years of supervised release following the prison term, U.S. States Attorney for Connecticut John H. Durham announced.

Riley, who was arrested in May 2018, worked as a human resources manager with the Connecticut Judicial Branch at the time he fraudulently obtained the loans, according to officials. During the investigation, authorities also found that in “at least 19 separate instances over more than a decade, Riley obtained or attempted to obtain loans from financial institutions using the identities of family members without their knowledge or permission,” according to a news release.

Additional information is from a Hartford Business Journal article, “Wallingford bankruptcy fraudster pleads guilty,” published Apr. 19, 2019.

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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.