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25 Years in Prison for Identity Theft?

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Gordon Moore, a ringleader of a massive Minnesota-based identity theft ring, was sentenced last week to 25 years in prison, the last of six leaders to be sentenced for the scheme that covered 14 states, involved more than 100 people and cost $2.5 million.

The other ringleaders received sentences between 10 and 25 years in prison, according to a report in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Twenty-five years may seem like a lot when compared to some of the conspirators’ sentences — the Star-Tribune cited some between 2 ½ and 4 ¾ years — but the vast reach of the scam supports the sentences, says Ed Goodman, chief privacy officer at Identity Theft 911.

“It is rare that these types of identity conspiracies are ever broken up,” Goodman said. When combined with the financial and emotional impact on consumer victims and defrauded banks, he said the ringleaders’ sentences weren’t surprising. “The penalties seem consistent with sentences for ringleaders of organized crime rings in other contexts, as well.”

Moore and his fellow leaders orchestrated the large-scale crime ring by recruiting a variety of participants to steal personal information: employees at the Minnesota Board of Psychology, the St. Paul Postal Credit Union, hearing aid company Sonus, Wells Fargo Bank and education company Pearson; people willing to break into businesses, homes and cars to steal checkbooks, mail and purses; and people to cash checks and buy merchandise to be returned later for cash or gift-card refunds.

Moore’s attorney had argued the operation was a “garden-variety crime ring,” according to the Star-Tribune. The judge, Paul Magnuson, disagreed, saying it was the most sophisticated identity theft operation he had seen.

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