According to the Better Business Bureau in 2005, more than 9 million Americans had been the victims of identity theft over the course of the previous two years. Unfortunately, most of the people responsible for those crimes will never be punished because locating them and prosecuting them is extremely challenging. However, there have been some identity theft court cases around the country.
One Interesting Case
A woman named Christina Lee Cameron was sentenced to thirteen years in prison after being found guilty of identity theft, as well as burglary. Cameron had stolen a large number of identifications and checks then used them to pay for items at stores all over the community. She even bragged to law enforcement agents over the phone that she could not be caught.
However, Cameron was bragging prematurely. Thanks to a combination of surveillance cameras in the stores and a search of her home, there was sufficient evidence to get the conviction. She wrote more than $11,000 in checks using the fake identities. This is a good example of how some identity theft court cases do end up with prosecutions.
A Texas Example
Another example of a court case happened in 2007. In Fort Worth, Texas, a 50 year old man named Billy Coats received up to 25 years in prison for identity theft. He had stolen identities from more than 50 different people using various methods, including a device to unlock car doors and trunks so he could steal purses left inside. The stiff penalty was the result of a law that had passed in Texas just three months before his arrest. His previous felony conviction made him eligible for a sentence ten years longer than normal for the crime. Coats is believed to have been part of an identity theft ring in which he created fake checks and others cashed them.
Prior to the New Texas Law
While identity theft court cases, like the previous two examples, seem to include a punishment that fits the crime. That was not always the case in states like Texas before the tougher laws were passed. One man convicted of identity theft in Texas prior to that new law only faced a maximum sentence of two years in jail even though he had stolen the identities of over 1,000 victims and had used them to fraudulently obtain more than $330,000.