me are bogus
This brochure for victims of identity theft was provided by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies. Click image to enlarge.
TWO OFFICERS OF of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department have just left my home after taking and logging a report that my identity has been stolen.
Don’t let this happen to you. It is frightening indeed.
All forms of identity theft in California are crimes under the California Penal Code, Section 530 et seq, according to state Attorney General Kamala D. Harris.
“Identity theft is someone taking personal information like your name, Social Security number, or financial account number and using it for an unlawful purpose,” Harris says on her web site. “Everyday people, business owners, well-known celebrities, and children are prey to it. In California, all forms of identity theft are crimes.”
I was first alerted that something was amiss on Friday afternoon Aug. 22 when a mysterious message from a friend appeared on my Facebook timeline.
The message, an image of which you see here with the sender’s name removed to protect HIS identity, purportedly was in response to a text message sent to the poster’s assistant – with whom I have never had any contact at all; I don’t even know his name, certainly not his telephone number.
This is the Facebook message that alerted me on Friday Aug. 22 that something was amiss. Click image to enlarge. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
The message also referred to some event on Sunday afternoon, and I checked my calendar to see what was on it.
What WAS on it was a motorcycle ride up the Angeles Crest Highway with the Oedipus motorcycle club.
My concern grew; the sender of the message is not a motorcycle rider, nor could I have ever conceivably messaged him about the event and “meeting him there.”
I checked the log of messages sent and received in my phone. I have never sent this recipient – or his assistant – a text message, ever!
Immediately I contacted him through another channel. Facebook is far too public – and insecure – for important personal and private messages.
In fact, during the next several hours I contacted the sender through every available channel; we are both very widely connect on many channels. Each contact, including, finally, a voicemail on his mobile phone increased my level of urgency.
This text message represents itself as if it is from me. It is not. It was sent from an unidentified phone number Click image to enlarge. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
THIS MORNING in my email inbox, was his response.
The image you see here he scanned from the screen of a smartphone. It was one of a series of messages from phone number (323) 509-xxxx (we of course know the number, it is not mine and I have never heard of it before).
The entire series of messages has now been handed over to the police.
I quickly did some investigative reporting. According to the T-Mobile web site, this number is “available” … in other words, it is not in service at this time.
The web site of California Attorney General Karmala Harris regarding identity theft. Click image to enlarge.
However, T-Mobile is wrong.
The first thing I did was dial the number and got a recording: “Please leave your name at the tone and we will attempt to connect your call.”
I hung up immediately.
I little later, I called the same number from my local pharmacy, down the street. I gave my name as “James” and then got the voicemail. “The party you are trying to reach is not available at this time. Please leave a message after the tone.”
I hung up.
The volunteer at the Altadena Sheriff’s Department front desk, after conferring with an officer out of sight behind reflective glass panels, asked several probing questions about the potential damage that could result (because, clearly, at this point there has been little actual harm … a missed bogus date I never made.)
But the potential is enormous. After I explained it the volunteer began to get more serious about it. Then, after making arrangements for an officer to visit my home this afternoon and take a statement, he added: “They [the intake officer] view this as possibly a civil matter.”
Knowing this could not possibly be correct, I raced home and within seconds found the web site of the California Attorney General cited above.
I WISH TO ALERT anyone and everyone that communications purportedly from me should be examined with great care, especially text messages, which I use infrequently.
If you have any doubt about any electronic communications from me, please contact me at once and we shall investigate.
And, be aware yourself that this can happen to you.
“Identity theft does not discriminate,” says AG Harris. “There were 12.6 million U.S. adult victims in 2012, or one victim every three seconds. That figure represents 5.3 percent of U.S. adults, including over a 1.6 million Californians.
“Identity theft is also expensive. The total cost of identity theft in 2012 was $21 billion.”
You have been warned.
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