Central Florida investigators said that 142 people were victimized by a ring of identity thieves who stole credit and debit cards, drivers licenses, Social Security cards, a passport, a W-2 form, nursing licenses, jewelry and anything else of value they could grab quickly, reports the Orlando Sentinel. Five people were arrested this month after a search of three warehouses, and more arrests are expected. One woman’s credit was used to buy a $25,000 Toyota. She didn’t find out until the dealership called asking how she liked her new Camry.
The effects can resurface for years. A few months, ago, one victim got a letter from a store claiming she had written a bad check for more than $300. She closed that account right after a June 2008 car break-in. Thieves have found easy money in soft targets. People often feel comfortable when doing errands such as dropping a child off at day care or running into a convenience store. Sometimes, they even leave their cars running. Gated communities are not immune. Nor is the workplace. Mae Vaughn Glover left her purse in a closet in a nurse’s office while she worked at her job as a secretary at a cancer center in Orlando. When she returned, her wallet and checkbook were gone. Glover called her husband and a store where she had just bought Christmas lights, thinking she had left her valuables there. The thieves bought $8,655 worth of furniture, electronics, and more and opened credit accounts in her name. They had even replaced the photo on her drivers license with one of their own and managed to cash one of her checks at her credit union, she said. Glover was so traumatized that she pays cash only now. “I was violated,” she said. “I was totally violated.”