A lot of people don’t enjoy the process of buying a new car: You have to figure out your budget, fight temptation to spend more than you planned, negotiate with salespeople, apply for financing — it’s stressful. Of course, if money is no object, or the money isn’t yours, it can be lots of fun to buy a car. You may even want to do it again and again.
An Alabama man is accused of having too much fun with other people’s money: 20-year-old Charles Cheeks was arrested and charged with 34 counts of identity theft for allegedly stealing personal information of patients from a Birmingham doctor’s office and using their credit to buy 14 cars, reports al.com (the Alabama Media Group).
Investigators allege Cheeks stole 41 identities, 39 of which belonged to former patients at Trinity Medical Center, and used the information in more than 500 attempts to make fraudulent purchases. Cheeks is said to have purchased 14 cars online for a total value of $561,000. The cars included model years 2012 through 2015 and cost between $31,800 and $52,000. Police started investigating Cheeks when a consumer reported his information was used in an attempted (and failed) online purchase of a $76,000 2014 BMW from a Dallas car dealership.
According to an investigator interviewed by al.com, Cheeks allegedly completed the sales by claiming to be deaf and communicating with dealerships via email and faxed in loan applications.
“He even haggled with some of the salespersons in order to get the best possible price on the purchases,” said Hoover, Ala., Police Capt. Gregg Rector, according to al.com. “He also obtained automobile insurance policies using the same bogus names, and faxed that information to the dealerships, to prove that he was insured.”
A salesperson at the dealership in Dallas reported the suspicious purchase attempt to the Alabama investigators after looking up the name Cheeks allegedly used to attempt to buy the BMW.
“That victim verified that his identity was being used and it generated the initial report to our officers,” Rector told al.com. “The other 14 dealerships appeared to be OK with not having any face-to-face or telephone conversations with the buyer-suspect.”
Situations like this are a good example of why it’s important to regularly monitor your credit. Until someone misuses your identity, you may have no idea your personal information has been compromised, and if you’re not frequently checking your credit scores or reports, the fraud could go on for a long time, unnoticed. Meanwhile, your credit standing will suffer, and it can be time-consuming and costly to correct those errors — the longer it goes on, the more difficult it becomes to correct. You can check your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com to see where you stand.
More on Identity Theft:
- Identity Theft: What You Need to Know
- How Can You Tell If Your Identity Has Been Stolen?
- What Should I Do If I’m a Victim of Identity Theft?