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Could Your Paper Boy Steal Your Identity?

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A Massachusetts man was recently arraigned in connection with a massive identity theft scheme that ripped off numerous people for at least $200,000.

Ikponmwosa Ogiugo, who worked as a newspaper deliveryman in Massachusetts, now faces charges of larceny over $250 by check, five counts of larceny over $250, 12 charges of identity theft and 23 counts of forgery as a result of crimes allegedly committed while on the job, according to a report from the Middlesex County District Attorney’s office. He is being held on $5,000 cash bail and was made to surrender his passport, as he is originally from Nigeria and was deemed a flight risk.

Ogiugo was a deliveryman in nearby Woburn, Massachusetts, and allegedly duplicated checks given to him as payment by his customers, using professional-grade check-making equipment, the report said. At least 16 subscribers gave him checks as tips during the holiday season, then Ogiugo both duplicated the checks and used their bank account routing information and other data to create phony checks.

“These are very concerning allegations, where a person used his position of trust with long-term newspaper delivery customers, many of them elderly, to gain access to their personal information and then manipulated that information to gain a monetary benefit for himself,” said District Attorney Gerry Leone. “The elderly are our most deserving population and we are dedicated to fully prosecuting this troubling case.”

The phony checks were then sent to people out of state — New Jersey, New York, Florida, and Washington — then the cash was sent via wire transfer to accounts in India, the report said. Unfortunately, once many victims realized they’d been ripped off, they closed their bank accounts, open new ones, and once again present Ogiugo with a check, which would begin the process all over again. The investigation began in December 2012, and is still ongoing.

Identity theft affects millions of Americans every year, but fortunately law enforcement agencies and other organizations are now beginning to do more to help protect consumers from the threats this type of crime can pose, not only to their bank accounts, but also to their overall credit health. Those who think they may have been victimized should contact the authorities as well as their various financial institutions.

Image: Ryan McVay

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