The Cruel Face of Identity Theft
Identity theft can endanger a lifetime of savings. Older adults are often the targets, which is why specialized protection is so valuable for seniors and their families. An elder fraud case brought by the Justice Department illustrates just how harmful these crimes can be.
Dwayne Brooks, an identity thief from Seattle, was recently sentenced for a string of financial crimes in which he preyed on vulnerable, older adults, making off with more than $128,000. One of his victims was a 78-year-old woman who was dying at the time Brooks looted her accounts. He used her personal data to open credit accounts and capture her bank deposits, while also trying to obtain her power of attorney. Separately, an 84-year-old victim is still trying to untangle the fraud he committed with her finances.
In the course of Brooks’ crimes, the scammer used debit cards, credit cards, checks and other personal financial information that he swiped from the mail, cars and people’s homes.
“This defendant is a financial predator who ruthlessly exploited anyone he could, including the elderly, infirm, or even medically incapacitated,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. “He was relentless in his efforts to open credit accounts, cash stolen checks, and steal from bank and retirement accounts. His victims are still sorting out the damage he did to their financial lives.”
U.S. District Judge James L. Robart recently sentenced Brooks to five years in prison and ordered repayment of the money, which comes in addition to 15 months he has already served in state prison for related crimes.