COLLIER COUNTY, Fla.- One hundred five Collier County factory workers face up to five years in prison each, for using false Social Security numbers. Now, WINK News reporter Sam Smink is telling you how to stop identity theft, before it happens.
Tracking down several of the victims, WINK News spoke with one family member, who says the call from police threw her niece into a panic. They immediately requested bank statements, and credit reports, only to find, there was no trace of a crime.
The 105 faces you see in Collier County mugshots, look nothing like the people, the alleged criminals are accused of stealing from.
Authorities call them identity thieves, saying they used false social security numbers, to find a job. Each one faces up to five years in prison, but their victims face a lifetime of headaches.
"With your Social Security number, they can take out loans, get a job. They can get a driver's license, open credit cards, bank accounts, you name it...If they have your Social Security number, unfortunately they have the keys to the kingdom."
Identity theft expert Carrie Kerskie says most victims learn the hard way, after suspects spend lots of cash. In this case, the workers simply used the numbers to fill out employment forms, a crime not easy to spot on bank statements. Still, Kerskie says there are ways to be proactive.
"You can always request a background check on yourself. They search more than just your credit report," said Kerskie.
But a credit report can still help, "See if there's any unknown addresses, unusual names," said Kerskie.
And finally, "Next would be to contact social security through my ssa program and ask them to send a report. Unfortunately it's up to the victim to do all the work."
Now we checked with the Department of Insurance Fraud, they said the state attorney's office has 21 days to decide whether to file official charges on the suspects.
Immigration is also investigating.