Puerto Rican Identity Theft

Luigi Montes is the last among 50 sentenced for participating in a US-based identity theft crime ring. This ring targeted Puerto Rican citizens for a large tax fraud scheme. This is not the first online crime ring to target Puerto Ricans. And as online crime gets more sophisticated, security experts warn, identity theft will thrive in unsecured environments.

Montes is the last to be sentenced for conspiracy to submit false statements to the U.S. Postal Service and false claims to the Internal Revenue Service. He faces 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $50,381 as restitution to the IRS. Montes pleaded guilty to the charges last year, implicating his co-conspirators.He made a statement revealing that they submitted tax returns and received tax refunds in East Texas mail boxes they obtained under false identities stolen from Puerto Rican citizens. The 5 other participants in the ID fraud scheme were previously sentenced with jail terms ranging from 5 to 16 months and ordered to pay restitution amounting to about $53,500.

Early last year, 50 individuals in Puerto Rico and the US were charged for identity theft targeting Puerto Rican citizens. The ring members from 15 US states and Puerto Ricowere in business for almost two years. They soldthe identity documents of Puerto Rican US citizens to illegal aliens and other US residents. They were indicted with trafficking Puerto Rican birth certificates and social security cards along with other identity documents.

The ring operated out of Puerto Rico and recruited US residents to broker the stolen documents. Sets of identity documents were sold for $700 to $2500. Orders for these sets were placed to the Puerto Rican headquarters by telephone. These US brokers placed all orders for their customers. Money transfer services were used to process payment and documents were sent by mail to the brokers in the US. Some of these brokers also used Puerto Rican identities when transacting. The documents were used by customers to apply for drivers’ licenses and passports and to commit financial fraud.

Identity Theft Today

Identity theft is getting more and more sophisticated. The ease with which people can connect and transact online has provided a lucrative environment for identity fraud. US citizens are increasingly victimized because of the value of their personal information and the difficulty of obtaining that identity through legitimate means. US citizens need to be aware of the threat and the means to protect their identities and financial accounts.

Many people today use online service for communications, banking, shopping and more. A lot of personally identifiable information is send around the Internet daily. If this information is not secured, hackers can get hold of it. Identity theft is in itself dangerous. But stolen identities often lead to financial fraud and theft as well. There are millions of victims in the US alone who have had their bank accounts and credit cards wiped out by hackers.

Identity thieves are getting harder to catch. They are taking full advantage of anonymity tools and other technologies that make them hard to trace. They are getting skillful at snooping and social engineering to get to personal information that they can manipulate for financial gain. And they use secure and private payment systems as ways to hide the money trail.

Once victimized, people face continuing challenges as fraudulent claims are discovered under their names. If the identity theft is not properly reported, these innocents are legally liable and can be unfairly charged and jailed. In cases of financial theft, they don’t have much chance of getting their money back. The best solution is for people to protect the personal information that they share online so it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Protection Against Identity Theft

There are many companies offering secure solutions for people who transact online. One of these is a virtual private network, or VPN. VPNs are well-known methods of properly securing data transfers. The data sent from a computer – social security numbers, credit card details, etc. – is encrypted by the VPN. It is also sent through a private tunnel so the data can only be read by the person that the data is meant for. VPNs also provide people with an alternate IP address so that the transaction cannot be traced back to the registered user. This protects the user’s identity on top of all the personal and financial data that goes out to online retailers, banks, government offices, and the like.

Security experts and privacy advocates have long backed the use of VPNs for their safety benefits. VPNs are no longer for securing businesses but for personal safety online. As businesses are routinely targeted as sources of valuable consumer data, consumers can no longer depend on the security provided by those they transact with. People need to take their own steps to protect their data.For more information on personal VPNs, please visit our VPN page.

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