Jewish World Review June 10, 2002 / Tamuz, 5762

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Consumer Reports

Prisoners accused in ID theft rings -- MILWAUKEE A habitual criminal faces more jail time for allegedly running an identity theft ring using telephones inside the Milwaukee House of Correction to bilk Ameritech out of more than $164,000 in service.

Prosecutors say David Trotter and fellow inmates set up 112 phony accounts, using stolen credit card numbers to place orders with mail order firms and to order tickets for sporting events that were resold. Members of the ring operated from inside the jail and an undetermined number from outside, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday.

Law enforcement officials say identify theft has become one the nation's the fastest growing crimes with 908 cases reported in Wisconsin in 2001. Authorities held a series of seminars for law enforcement investigating identity theft.

The crime took off during the 1990s economic boom when crooks found it easy to get hold of personal information -- names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and bank account and credit card numbers -- to commit fraud and theft.

Criminals obtain personal identification a variety of ways from stealing wallets, purses and mail, to rummaging through trash, fraudulently obtaining a credit report and from insiders at stores or unsecure sites on the Internet.

On Tuesday, a judge added five years to a convicted robber's 10-year sentence for running an identity theft phone ring from the Waupun Correctional Institution that rang up $72,000 in fraudulent bills.

Two Milwaukee men were charged with conspiracy to misappropriate personal identification and two counts of misappropriation of personal identifying information.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said Trotter was caught after police received a tip that he was heading the identity theft ring from his cell at the jail. Officers found lists of stolen personal identification information inside a locker.

In one transaction, the ring used a stolen credit card number to purchase 10 tickets to a wresting event and scalped the tickets for as much as $300 each.

Described by law enforcement as a habitual criminal, Trotter had a long rap sheet of crimes including theft by fraud, retail theft, receiving stolen property and obstructing an officer. He denied he was the ringleader of the ID theft ring.

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