Detective Rodger Burt will be the first to tell you, the odds are ever against the authorities in their efforts to catch identity thieves.
“The criminal has the upper hand, and the opportunities are endless,” said Burt, the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s resident fraud-fighting expert who, this time, has one of those tough-to-track alleged fraudsters in his sights.
Maybe you can help.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has issued a special bulletin asking the public to help identify a suspect who is believed to be responsible for several identity theft and fraud cases in the La Cañada Flintridge area.
Burt said the suspect purchased more than $100,000 worth of merchandise with the information he allegedly stole from just two LCF residents, though Burt said there could be many more victims associated with this suspect who authorities don’t know about.
The suspect — who was caught on video and appears to be a black man, well-dressed and between 35 and 40 years old — opens fraudulent credit cards to make online purchases. Burt said he uses the UPS “My Choice” program to redirect packages.
“Let’s say someone opens an account using your name, address and social security number and obtains credit cards,” Burt explained in an email. “That person will then order products online and have the items sent, via UPS, to your home. The products will be sent to your address by whatever company took the order. The suspect will then use the My Choice program account he opened in your name and have the packages redirected (while in transit) to a UPS store or hub and pick them up.”
Those packages often contain computers, said Burt, who is unsure how the suspect might have obtained his victims’ personal information.
“He’s been doing this all over the county,” Burt said. “So he goes around buying whatever he wants, and then he’ll go pick it up at the UPS Store or at the hub in Sylmar.”
Burt said the victims whose IDs have been stolen won’t be out of any money, but the banks will suffer the losses — and pass that on to their wider customer bases.
“The scams are endless,” Burt said. “But we’re going to try to get one guy at least.”
The public is asked to report any information regarding the suspect to the CV Sheriff’s Station by calling (818) 248-3464.