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Investigation leads to identity theft arrest

A fraud investigation led Los Angeles Sheriff's Department deputies to the arrest of a woman who allegedly stole another's identity on Feb. 6. The 21-year-old suspect is said to have assumed the identity of a 70-year-old Georgia resident when she obtained $5,000 in cash advances using the woman's credit card information. She was arrested for both identity theft and grand theft and is being held in jail on a $50,000 bond.

Identity theft is a growing problem, and authorities remind everyone to be aware of all account activity on their bank and credit card statements. If any transactions seem suspect, one should report this activity immediately to both one's financial institution as well as local authorities. It is important to do this quickly as catching perpetrators of fraud often hinges on a time factor.

As sensitive personal information is increasingly disseminated in the public sphere and transmitted over sometimes insecure channels, identity theft has become one of the nation's fastest growing crimes, and consumers who are lax or careless in keeping their information secure make themselves easy targets. Penalties for identity theft under California law, however, can be severe. A first offense can carry a fine of up to $1,500, a county jail sentence of up to a year or both.

For those accused of identity theft, it is important to seek sound legal advice. Identity theft can be a serious crime, depending on the amount that was stolen. A criminal defense attorney represents those accused of identity theft and assists them in formulating a solid defense or in reducing charges by making restitution.

Source: Altadena Patch, "Altadena woman arrested for identity theft," Jessica Hamlin, Feb. 7, 2013

Source: California Penal Code, Section 530.5

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