A Rotten Ruse

Hand with tweezers holding id photo over passport as if forging the travel documents

A Medina, Ohio man has been sentenced to two years in prison for committing aggravated identity theft. Brian Michael Rini was indicted by a grand jury on April 18, 2019 and pleaded guilty in January 2020 to stealing the identity of a child who went missing nearly a decade ago. (His rap sheet shows that he previously served time for burglary and vandalism. Since his DNA was already on file, it was easy to catch this imposter.)

Rini claimed to be the now grown Timmothy Pitzen, a child who disappeared in 2011 at the age of 6. This impersonation scam first began in April 2019 when police were called in response to a man acting suspiciously in a neighborhood in Kentucky. (This was the beginning of Rini’s sickening ruse.)

Rini told police that he had been held captive by sex traffickers for the past decade and had finally escaped. (According to the FBI, Rini had watched a “20/20” episode about Timmothy and wanted to get away from his own family.)

While the police initially believed Rini’s story, DNA test swabs ultimately proved that he was not the boy who went missing nearly a decade ago. (I guess this fraudster didn’t count on the police using science in 2021.The DNA test confirmed that Rini is nothing but a fraudster.) Rini was promptly charged with aggravated identity theft.   

The backstory of Timmothy Pitzen is a tragic one. In May 2011, Timmothy’s mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen, checked her young son out of elementary school. She took Timmothy to a zoo and a Wisconsin water park. (What sounds like a kid’s dream day quickly took a turn for the worst.)

Sadly, Amy Fry-Pitzen’s body was found three days later in a hotel room more than 70 miles from their home in Rockford, Illinois. It was determined that she committed suicide. Timmothy’s mother left a note stating that her son was with people who loved him. She also added that he would never be found. (Unfortunately, he is still missing.)

The impersonation of Timmothy added to the immeasurable grief and suffering of the Pitzen family. In January 2020, Timmothy’s aunt stated, “We know that Timmothy will absolutely be found one day and we look forward to the day that he is able to share his own story and hopefully help other people in the process.” (Is a two-year prison sentence really a just punishment to make up for the false hope Timmothy’s family experienced from the heinous crime?)

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “Man who claimed to be missing boy Timmothy Pitzen gets two years in prison,” published by CNN on December 17, 2020.

A man who claimed to be Timmothy Pitzen, who disappeared in 2011 at age 6, has been sentenced to two years in prison for aggravated identity theft, federal prosecutors say.

Brian Michael Rini, 24, of Medina, Ohio, was indicted by a grand jury on April 18, 2019. He pleaded guilty in January 2020 and was sentenced Tuesday in US District Court in Cincinnati.

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.