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Extensive prison term for Twin Cities identity theft ringleader

A 42-year-old Twin Cities man, known as being one of the ringleaders of a multi-state identity theft ring, was recently sentenced to serve 25 years in prison. It should be noted that while there were more than 100 people involved in this case, six of these so-called "ringleaders" have been sentenced to serve between 10 years and 25 years.

In looking at this case, the claim is the identity theft ring involved more than 100 people across 14 states. In this ring, personal information was reportedly gained by break-ins and thefts, as well as from insiders with access to personal information. 

For example, one woman involved in this ring worked as a receptionist with the Minnesota Board of Psychology. Authorities accused her of taking personal information, including the Social Security numbers, of 60 psychologists. She then shared this information with the ringleaders of the identity theft ring.

However, even though she was accused of sharing this personal information, she was not sentenced to the same amount of time as some of the others. Rather, this 44-year-old St. Paul woman was sentenced to serve a little less than three years. Having this on her record though, will no doubt continue to impact her personal and professional life even after her time has been served. 

This was also not the only way personal information was obtained, as mail was also stolen and businesses, cars and homes were broken in to. 

U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson referred to this operation as the "most complex, involved, massive conspiracy for fraud and identity theft" that he had ever seen. 

According to authorities, the system was set up where ringleaders would print fake checks and IDs. Recruiters would then enlist others -- more than 100 people -- to buy merchandise or cash checks. In most cases, when merchandise was purchased, the items were later returned for gift cards or cash refunds. 

With this case, authorities really worked together to piece together this identity theft ring, which authorities dubbed Operation Masquerade. 

Overall, authorities take white collar crimes very seriously. As identity theft crimes have become more common, prosecutors have taken to responding aggressively. This means those who are facing identity theft-related crimes -- even if it was just cashing a check -- should seek legal representation.

Source: StarTribune, "Minnesota identity theft scheme nets 33 federal convictions," Randy Furst, Oct. 30, 2013

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