Identity thieves hit 29 City of Pittsburgh employees
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At least 29 city employees from multiple departments are victims of identity theft, according to an e-mail that Pittsburgh police sent Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and other top city officials over the weekend.
The employees received bills from PayPal for purchases they didn't make, Detective Christopher Jordan of the computer crimes unit said in the email.
Detective Jordan didn't identify the 29 affected employees or their departments, but he said the thief or thieves set up account numbers using employees' names, addresses and at least partial Social Security numbers. He didn't say how the information might have been obtained.
"Some transactions are already made to the accounts and the balances range from $40 to $3,000. No one is out of pocket anything at this time," he said, noting he is receiving assistance from U.S. postal inspectors and other agencies.
Detective Jordan sent the email to Mr. Ravenstahl and to directors of all city departments, with the request that they make the information available to employees.
"More information is forthcoming as we submit all the necessary search warrants and follow up leads," he said. "Currently, we are processing the abundant amounts of data and identifying certain similarities."
At the request of victims, Detective Jordan provided department heads with a checklist of steps that employees should take if they're victims — or believe they might be victims — of identity theft.
The tips include notifying banks, credit reporting agencies and PayPal and checking for unauthorized purchases.
"I know this is going to seem like a lot of trouble, but identity theft is the gift that keeps on giving," Detective Jordan said. "Most thieves will sit on the information for a period and use it years down the road. As one convicted ID thief told me after she stole personal information of people helping with the John Kerry presidential campaign, 'I was waiting for a rainy day.' "
Detective Jordan said interviews with city officials will be scheduled.
"Your cooperation is paramount, and I look forward to making the acquaintance of a certain few to ascertain further information germane to the case," he said.
First Published July 31, 2011 11:42 pm