|Accused ringleaders of senior identity theft scam. |
The party is over for the couple in the picture but we are left wondering about the more than 80 elderly patients they are accused of scamming.
Last week Amanda Zieminski and Clyde Forteau were arrested after a year-long investigation of an identity theft scam targeting seniors. A goggle search led police to posted facebook pictures of the couple's recent spending spree and Disney World engagement. The police were able to match the purchases featured on the couple's facebook page with purchases made with the senior's stolen credit cards.
Zieminski is accused of stealing Social Security numbers and credit card information from elderly patients at a medical center where she once worked. Forteau is accused of using that information to file false tax returns and have refunds and Social Security payments deposited to his account. Police discovered more than 50 stolen credit cards and 20 fake driver's licenses upon arrest.
According to FBI statistics, identify theft, especially medical identity theft, is on the rise for seniors. Medical identity theft usually involves stealing medical histories and insurance information used to obtain medical treatment. Criminals are expanding the definition as they increasingly target seniors while in the hospital or some other medical setting. The last thing anyone should have to worry about when seeking medical attention is safe-guarding personal information but we obviously need to be more alert and aware.
The fact that seniors continue to trust more easily is compounded by the fact that we are all more vulnerable when ill making the medical settings attractive playgrounds for identity thieves. To complicate matters even further, some seniors are less likely to report identity theft because they fear their families or caregivers will judge them as incapable and try to take control.
Let's work together to raise awareness and educate one another. Personal information should be closely guarded at all times even at the hospital or doctor's office. Checks, credit cards, Social Security numbers, Medicare cards and other insurance information are the most sought after sources of information for identity thieves.