The state of Ohio maintains strict laws for identity fraud due to the nature of the crime and the harm it can cause to any victims that are involved. This type of fraud can cost people their entire life savings if the offender wipes out their bank accounts using their own personal identification information. A felony charge is awarded to those who break this law.
Identity Fraud - 2913.49
Pretending to be another person, possessing the personal information of another person, and representing another person’s information as one’s own, are all forms of identity fraud. These crimes equate to a felony charge in the fifth degree. If more than $1,000 is obtained fraudulently while using this information, the charge excels to a fourth degree offense. It changes to a third degree charge when more than $7,500 is obtained. A total of $150,000 equates to a second degree felony in the state of Ohio. This earns a sentence of between two and eight years in prison. At least $15,000 in fees may also be charged, along with restitution to the victims.
Security Freeze - 1349.52
Certified mail may be utilized by Ohio consumers in an effort to submit a written request of a security freeze. This freeze will go into effect within a few days after it is received. It stops creditors from being able to access the credit report and information within so no new accounts can be taken out in a person’s name without their knowledge.
The reporting agency is obligated to send a notification to the consumer detailing that the freeze is in place, and providing a pin number that can be used in the future. This shall be sent out within five business days after the freeze is put in place. The freeze can be lifted for one specific party, or for a designated time period, so an actual creditor required by the true report owner may access the necessary information.
Impersonation of Police Officer- 2921.51
Impersonation requires using someone else’s identity. The impersonation of a police officer is extremely offense in this case, and is prohibited by law in Ohio. Anyone that states they are an officer, shows the badge of an officer, or wears an officer’s uniform is committing a crime. The same rules apply to a peace officer, FBI agent, investigator, private police officer, and any other type of law enforcement at the local, state, and federal levels.
It is considered a fourth degree misdemeanor to commit this crime. If the impersonator attempts to falsely arrest someone, it ups the charge to a first degree misdemeanor. This charge is punishable by a stint of six months in jail. Any impersonator that commits a minor offense earns themselves a fourth degree felony. Impersonators that commit felony crimes are charged with third degree felonies. Ohio’s punishment for a felony in the third degree is a prison term of one to five years.
Identity Fraud Passport - 109.94
Victims may receive an identity fraud passport if the attorney general from Ohio feels they are right to have one. This only occurs after a proper police report has been filed, and an investigation into the matter has been made. This passport is a type of identification card that proves victim status and allows those whose identities have been stolen to prove their innocence for crimes they did not commit, and debts they did not incur.
A couple of famous cases where identity fraud is present developed in recent years in the state of Ohio.
Tax Return Scheme Affects Four
The Ohio Department of Taxation sent notifications to four different taxpayers in the state saying there were tax returns filed in their names. The letters asked the consumers to notify the department if these were filed in error, and not completed by the victims themselves. It appeared someone else had filed both state and federal returns in the names of at least four people.
Jennifer Bolen was one of the residents this happened to. Her return was put on hold until the IRS could investigate the matter, meaning she would have to wait some time before she could see the money owed to her. She also had to spend a great deal of time and effort to close accounts, change passwords, and contact various agencies to report the theft.
Man Makes Over $60,000 in Tax Scheme
Lance Ealy was able to obtain more $60,000 by completing fraudulent tax returns and engaging in a scheme. He used an online website to purchase stolen identities. Ealy then used these identities to complete more than 100 tax returns that would get him checks. He opened bank accounts under the names in order to deposit and cash the checks so he could use the money.
Aggravated identity theft, access device fraud, and wire fraud were the three main charges Ealy received. Some of the charges were for multiple counts, earning Ealy a ten year prison sentence. There were actually 46 charges in all. He must pay the stolen money back in full, as he was ordered to pay restitution totalling nearly $61,000. Ealy originally fled in November 2014 and failed to appear at his court hearing. He removed his monitoring device in order to do so. The criminal was not caught again until March 2015. He must now face an additional several years on top of his original sentence.
The state of Ohio provides numerous resources regarding identity theft and how to prevent it.
Ohioattorneygeneral.gov: The Ohio Attorney General offers a consumer section on their website dedicated to keeping people safe from online threats. Security breach and identity theft information is available.
Ocio.oso.edu: The Ohio State University Office of the Chief Information Officer discusses various tips for victims of identity theft. It includes steps to take in order to repair credit and restore their good name.
Tax.ohio.gov: The Department of Taxation in Ohio presents details regarding tax and identity fraud. A sample letter that would be sent to taxpayers if their identities were stolen is included on the website, along with information regarding the ID Quiz confirmation, and prevention tips.
Sheriff.franklincountyohio.gov: The Franklin County Ohio Sherriff discusses helpful information pertaining to identity theft and how it can be stopped. An affidavit of identity theft is included on the website, along with additional resources and statistics.