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Woman Pleads Not Guilty to Fraud Charges

A 30-year-old woman, La’ Dina M. Coleman, of Kansas City, Missouri, pleaded not guilty to an identity theft charge. Coleman is accused of using credit card information acquired from the dark web to purchase appliances worth more than $9,000.

Coleman was arrested on the 12th of April alongside 33-year-old Lepolean N. Reasonover of Chicago, after a truck they were driving was pulled over in Macon County on their way to Chicago. The truck was loaded with appliances such as five refrigerators, two lawnmowers, a washing machine, a trimmer, and three water heaters all valued at $9,000. According to an affidavit, all the appliances were purchased using stolen credit card information. On arrest, Reasonover gave a false identity as he was wanted for yet another identity theft case in Will County.

On being questioned further, Reasonover said that he acquired the credit card information from a dark web marketplace for $100. He said they were supposed to deliver the truck to a man in Chicago and earn $300 each. Reasonover claimed he had ties to a Chicago based gang that dealt in stolen goods. Coleman, on the other hand, stated that she was aware of the fact that the credit card information was stolen and had only gone to the store to pick up the appliances.

Identity fraud involves the acquisition of other people’s personal information and using it to commit crimes for financial gains. The US Department of Justice recognizes three significant ways through which personal details are stolen; shoulder surfacing, interception and redirection of private mails and the use of well-developed computations to acquire victims’ data.

Identity fraud took a different direction when criminals started creating synthetic identities. These identities are created using fake social security numbers. The identities are then used to create good credit histories. Once created the credit history is used to open credit cards under false identities, through which criminals collect thousands of dollars in the form of debt. Though the use of synthetic identities dates backward, its use was more prominent in 2016 and 2017.

In one of the most recent cases of synthetic identity theft, Kelvin Lyles, was sentenced three years and 10 months in federal prison. Lyles managed to steal $350,000 using his fake credit cards. Lyle made charges on the credit cards using online sites that he controlled; he would then deposit all the proceeds to his accounts. Lyle ran the fraudulent scheme from January 2013 to December 2015 when he was finally arrested. A raid on his residence resulted in the seizure of 300 synthetic identities, fake driver’s licenses, social security cards and a number of credit cards. After serving the prison sentence, Lyles will be put under supervised release. He was also ordered to a restitution fee to the tune of $354,000.

According to a report on data breach by The Identity Theft Resource Centre (ITRC), 14.2 million credit card numbers were exposed in 2017 alone, representing an 88 percent increase from 2016. To add to this, 158 million social security numbers were also exposed resulting to an increase of eight times the number of identity theft cases. Dark web data leaks contribute immensely to identity theft as most fraudsters turn to the hidden markets to purchase stolen information as was the case for Reasonover.

Reasonover remains in custody in Will County while awaiting his pretrial hearing on the 11th of July while Coleman was released on a $5,000 bond. Through her attorney Wendell Hayes, Coleman expressed the desire to see the case resolved as soon as possible, and to that effect, she waived the right to a preliminary hearing. Her pretrial hearing will be held on the 6th of August.

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