News & Resources

Identity thefts in Louisiana prompts reform

Apr 17, 2012 Karen Umpierre

From a former soldier stealing a Microsoft co-founder's credit card to a business owner depositing fake checks and withdrawing money illegally, Louisiana has been in the news recently for identity theft schemes. The House of Representatives and law enforcement officials decided to take measures to rectify the situation. A Pennsylvania man, Brandon Lee Price, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigations for stealing the identity of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, explained the Associated Press. Former soldier Price, based out of Louisiana's Fort Polk, will have to appear in front Army officials in a court martial for desertion before he can stand trial for identity theft. Price went AWOL in July 2010 and wasn't seen by Army personnel since his March arrest, the source claims. Until the court martial, Price is in Louisiana, the A.P. said, once again serving with Fort Polk's 10th Mountain Division. After that trial, Price can expect to face identity theft charges. He pretended to be Allen in a phone call to Citibank, during which he said he had lost his debit card, so he had a backup sent to his personal address. The A.P. also reported on charges against LaPlace's William S. Ferguson II, who was recently sentenced to 51 months in a federal prison for bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. The source explained that Ferguson, a former business owner, used his company's bank account to deposit fraudulent checks from Chase and Hancock banks. He then proceeded to withdraw cash before it could be detected. After the criminals were charged, the Louisiana House of Representatives passed House Bill 744 through to the Senate on a 92 to 0 vote, The Times-Picayune reported. The bill, if approved by senators, would charge certain identity thieves in positions of trust, including hospital, nursing home and school employees, with an additional $1,000 fine as opposed to others charged with identity theft. Fines for identity theft, should the bill be put into law, could now be as large as $10,000. As an extra precaution against massive financial losses experienced through fraudulent charges, the Lake Charles Police Department is offering an identity theft workshop sponsored by the FBI and LifeLock for law enforcement agents. Methods for investigating the crime and techniques on how to prosecute suspects charged with the crime will be explored in the hopes of preventing consumer loss in the future.