Identity Theft and the Student

Think you’re safe because you’re an upstanding citizen and don’t engage in risky online behaviors? Think again. Two identity thieves recently attempted to cheat  over one hundred Emory University graduates after stealing their identities and obtaining loans using the stolen information.

Authorities believe that Maario Coleman and Angela Russell selected their victims after viewing students online and attending graduation ceremonies to obtain names and create target lists. The pair then used online databases to find matching social security numbers and birthdates before applying for loans in the students’ names. The two thieves were able to provide school transcripts to Discover Bank by accessing Emory’s student user accounts with the information they were able to obtain. The loans were deposited into bank accounts opened with the stolen identities and the funds withdrawn at ATMS.

Over $200,000 in false loan applications made by Russell and Coleman have been discovered by law enforcement so far. The pair began the scheme in May and was arrested in November. Emory University released a statement following the incident regarding the privacy and security of the student body’s personal information.

A Good Reminder

This particular crime is a good reminder that identity theft is not something that only strikes those engaging in risky or careless behavior with their personal information. The victims in this story were selected as targets because they were graduating from college with good degrees, making them more attractive to lenders for post-graduate loans. These students’ success made them vulnerable to and suitable for the thieves’ scheme.

It’s always a great idea to monitor your credit and finances even if you feel safe. Criminals like a target to feel secure; it means their victims aren’t looking for them. As illustrated by the misfortune of those recent Emory graduates, you never know who is sizing you up for the taking.

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