2007_04_idtheft.jpgWhen David Clarke of Queens received information from a bank about a $180,000 second mortgage on his Rosedale house - a mortgage he never applied for - he decided to contact the police. And Queens authorities found a Brooklyn couple who had been using Clarke's identity to buy a home in Long Island. Yesterday, the Queens D.A.'s office charged Emerick and Donna Martin with identity theft, second-degree grand larceny, first-degree scheme to defraud and much more for scams that totaled $1 million. Here are the crazy details from the Queens D.A.'s press release:

District Attorney Brown said that, according to the charges, the defendants took out two mortgages, totaling $1,123,000, on a residence located at 266 Pine Acres Boulevard in Dix Hills, Long Island, using the name and social security number of the victim, David Clarke. Thereafter, on December 19, 2006, it is charged, the defendants, posing as David Clarke and Donna Clarke, and a third unapprehended individual, went to a Westbury, Long Island, mortgage broker and requested a second mortgage of $180,000 on the real Mr. Clarke’s Rosedale property. At the mortgage closing on January 11, 2007, the defendants allegedly presented a forged driver’s license in the name of David Clarke and completed the paperwork by supplying the actual loan number, job information, telephone number and addresses of the real Mr. Clarke.

Now, not that thieves are smart, but didn't they realize they might be discovered since the real Clarke could easily be contacted? Or were they betting on the general bureaucracy of banks to shield them.

Not only did the Martins buy the Dix HIlls home, they also had credits cards in Clarke's name (Donna Martin became Donna Clarke) and tried to buy a Mercedes Benz on credit in "Donna Clarke"'s name, but with the real Clarke's social security number and a fake David Clarke driver's license (they were turned down because they did not have a valid David Clarke driver's license).

The Martins face up to seven years in prison if convicted. Queens D.A. Richard Brown added, "In this particular case, the victim – who was a complete stranger to the defendants – had over the years established for himself and his family one of the best credit rating scores a person could possibly achieve. In just a matter of months, it is alleged, the defendants destroyed it, leaving his credit in shambles. It could take the victim months or even years to reestablish his good credit.”

Here is the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs on identity theft and here's a PDF from the NYPD about preventing identity theft.