Moragans – and lots of other people throughout The Numbers – continue to be victimized by identity thieves buying everything from designer handbags to Harleys with someone else’s credit last week.
One local, whose personal information was acquired during recent data breaches at Alta Bates and Neiman Marcus, thought she had a lid on the problem until someone in Los Angeles attempted to buy a Harley Davidson in her name – and subsequently opened additional lines of credit at other stores for even more goodies.
The non-riding would-be victim is working with her banks and credit card companies to nip the problem in the bud, but she is not alone as the cases of identity theft stemming from recent data breaches continue to swell.
Moraga police are also seeing a jump in the number of fraudulently filed IRS returns, the thieves mining key data hacked from a variety of sources and kindly filing returns for people – but unkindly keeping the refunds. Investigators are looking into the local cases and the IRS is also tracking perpetrators, police say, although the thieves remain elusive.
Who’s doing this, you may ask? Police say they are seeing everyone from sophisticated, multi-national crime rings to “weekend criminals” who might lift a wallet from a purse and use their victim’s ID and credit line to acquire whatever they can get before the exploitation is discovered and the account closed.
The latter explanation may apply to the March 21 theft of mail and a parcel at a home on School Street in Moraga. A homeowner there told officers she saw two middle school-age youths running from her mailbox with her mail in hand, which may explain why many recent identity theft cases have involved fraudulent purchases for seemingly insignificant commodities like online video gaming time and hip hop music.
Caution and self-awareness, police stress, can help keep locals from having critical information stolen and used against them – though sophisticated hackers gaining access to personal data by breaching the databases of large corporations and agencies are proving harder to catch.