Identity Thieves Aren't Always Hard to Find - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

07/27/04 - East Texas

Identity Thieves Aren't Always Hard to Find

By Ramonica R. Jones

Authorities may have figured out the identity of a Houston man accused of identity theft in East Texas. Lufkin police caught the suspect in the act Monday at a local bank. Police say Luqman Bisiriyu opened an account earlier this month at the Bank of America on South John Redditt. Bank employees noticed something strange about the paperwork he used to open his account, but they were waiting for him to return to the bank before they contacted police.

Authorities say Bisiriyu has numerous identities. He's in the Angelina County Jail charged with 13 counts of identity theft. Most of the cases are out of Houston, but Bisiriyu reportedly has several victims in Lufkin. More charges are pending.

It doesn't always take a trained eye to spot a fraud; identity thieves often give themselves away.

Thomas Ellison, President of Commercial Bank of Texas, says, "A thief often times tends to be a con man; and so, depending on how they act, the way they respond to something, they will give us clues to look."

All bank tellers are trained to catch a thief, but Ellis says it's not exactly a science. If you know what a check or financial statement is supposed to look and feel like, you'll know what a fake document looks and feels like.

Protecting yourself from identity theft starts with you, by taking this simple advice: Shred or tear up personal documents before you throw them away; and don't give out any personal information over the phone unless you know who you're talking to.

East Texas banks spend several thousands of dollars a year on identity theft cases. President George Bush passed a new law this month that requires tougher sentences for identity thieves. Criminals convicted under the law will have a mandatory punishment of two years in federal prison added to their sentence.

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