May 9, 2000
Identity Thieves Hit Mondera, Other Jewelry Sites
A 29-count indictment handed up by federal prosecutors in New York accuses two Memphis men, James R. Jackson and Derek Cunningham, of assuming the identities of six prominent men and using their credit to purchase loose diamonds and Rolex watches from a variety of online sites, including Mondera, Blue Nile, Ashford and Diamond Cutters, according to USA Today. All orders were completed over the telephone and the alleged thieves took delivery on more than half of the $730,000 in merchandise they ordered before a sting operation captured them.
Three of the men whose identities were stolen died recently: Gordon Teter, CEO of Wendy's International; James Klinenberg, administrator of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles; and Nackey Loeb, publisher of The Union Leader newspaper in Manchester, NH. The other three men were Richard Fuld, CEO Of Lehman Bros.; John Alm, president of Coca-Cola Enterprises; and Stephen Bollenback, CEO of Hilton Hotels.
Security experts interviewed by USA Today said identity theft is a growing problem in the age of the Internet, with vast amounts of information available through online databases. Even obituaries are mined to obtain mother's maiden names, often the last piece of security information needed to steal credit card numbers and gain access to bank account authorizations. The use of a deceased person's credit is possible in the time before a credit bureau is updated on a person's death, usually about six months. The theft of prominent high-net-worth individuals' credit identities is common large banks and credit card companies don't like to inconvenience wealthy clients, know large purchases are common for them and quickly approve those large purchases.
- by Peggy Jo Donahue