Leave the Children Out of It

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Open security lock on credit cards with computer keyboard / Credit card data breach

Identity theft occurs when a fraudster uses another person’s identity to gain unauthorized access to their financial information. A woman from Washington stole the identities of over a dozen children to fraudulently collect benefits and open bank accounts in their names. (What kind of person steals from children?)

A Tacoma, Washington woman pleaded guilty and has been sentenced for wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and embezzlement of mail by a postal employee. Iliganoa Lauofo’s fraudulent schemes amounted to $276,000 over the course of seven years. (She could have made more than this through a legitimate job.)

Lauofo misrepresented the composition of her household, her household’s income, and used stolen identities to claim benefits which she was not entitled to. She also used the stolen identities to open bank accounts and credit accounts. (To fraudsters, this is a way of securing “free” money.)

The misrepresentation of Lauofo’s household was the result of her stealing and misusing the identity of 13 minor children who lived in American Samoa and Western Samoa. (Defrauding children crosses the line of decency.) Lauofo falsely claimed that these children lived with her and were under her care.

Bank and credit accounts were also opened using the children’s personal information. Another one of the identities Lauofo used was that of her deceased ex-husband years after his death. (He’s probably rolling over in his grave.) This allowed her to gain access to extensive lines of credit without paying the institutions back.

Additionally, Lauofo stole checks from the mail during her time as a U.S. Postal Service employee. She would illegally deposit the stolen checks into her own banking account. Lauofo is also accused of throwing away more than 200 pieces of mail. (Ah, so that’s where my mail went.)

Lauofo’s attorney asked the court to consider that her crimes were “borne out of poverty, loss of financial control and a pathological desire to please.” (It seems the only person she wanted to please was herself.) The attorney claimed that Lauofo’s actions were a result of her being burdened with enormous debts and her desire to provide for her seven children. U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones sentenced Lauofo to two years and three months in prison for committing identity theft fraud. She will also have to pay $276,639 in restitution.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “Tacoma woman sentenced for $276,000 fraud, including while she was a mail carrier,” published by Union-Bulletin on November 19, 2020.

A Tacoma woman was sentenced Tuesday for various fraud amounting to $276,000 over seven years.

Iliganoa Theresa Lauofo, 40, pleaded guilty to wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and embezzlement of mail by a postal employee.

 

 

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Larry Benson
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.