U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner, sentenced 50-year-old Turhan Lemont Armstrong to more than 21 years in federal prison yesterday for running a $3.3 million credit card, loan and real estate fraud scheme.
According to authorities, the Los Angelas-area local used stolen identities and Social Security numbers, primarily those of children, to obtain credit cards, open bank accounts, set up shell companies, apply for loans, and purchase assets such as homes and vehicles.
Since parents rarely think to monitor their children’s credit score, the scheme went on for nearly a decade, allowing Armstrong and his accomplices to apply for loans from multiple financial institutions across the country. The loans were used in the purchase of multiple cars that were later exported out of the United States.
As per the May 2019 conviction report, the accused failed to report any income to the IRS between 2009 and 2017, but continued to maintain multiple residences in Georgia, Florida and Northridge. During the investigation, the authorities found multiple fake IDs, hundreds of credit cards and social security numbers of his victims.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that Armstrong was found guilty of all 51 counts in his 2019 federal grand jury indictment. The charges include conspiracy to commit financial institution fraud, financial institution fraud, making false statements to financial institutions, conspiracy to commit money laundering, money laundering, conspiracy to commit access device (credit card) fraud, access device fraud, interstate transportation of stolen vehicles, and aggravated identity theft.
“[Armstrong’s] criminal conduct was more than a series of bad decisions – it was a way of life,” reads a passage of the sentencing memorandum. “The victims of [Armstrong’s] crimes run the gamut: banks, credit card issuers, car dealerships, utility companies, and the people all over the country whose identities [he] stole.”
The number one goal of identity thieves is to make as much profit as possible off your personal identifiable information. Whether they apply for loans, fill out false tax returns or acquire medical insurance in your name, some of these crimes can go unnoticed for months, or even years. Children identities are especially tempting for cyber thieves. In a 2017 study conducted by Javelin Research, more than 1 million children had their identities stolen, with 66% of victims under the age of 8.
It’s important to avoid sharing your child’s Social Security number when possible, but if you do, inquire how the organizations protects you and your child’s personal information. Keep your documents and sensitive information in a secure place, and immediately take action if your child’s school discloses a data breach.
If your young one is highly active on the Internet, you might want to provide him with some handy cyber security tips, that will help protect his personal information and your household devices.