Identity Thieves Targeting Sports Fans

Tuesday, April 21, 2009 - 7:21pm

Next time you head out to an LSU game make sure to keep a close eye on your wallet. Identity thieves have made Tiger fans a target. It’s an organized group of criminals. They’re targeting middle-aged sports fans. The crooks are stealing wallets and using the information they get to steal identities.

You go out to the games to have a good time and secret service agents say crooks are hoping to have fun with your identity. Lou Velez with the Baton Rouge office says, “They’ve pick-pocketed individuals at the women’s NCAA event we had here in Baton Rouge, and two days later, he struck in Gulfport, Mississippi.” Investigators say the man is using stolen identities to cash in. So far he’s made about $50,000.

Here’s how it’s been working. Pickpockets have been stealing wallets, at Hornets games, at LSU games, even at the NCAA championships here in Baton Rouge. Once the pickpocket gets the wallets, the identify theft process begins. Police say this man is stealing IDs. “He puts his picture on top of the picture of the victim and he re-laminates it.” Baton Rouge Director of the Secret Service Lou Velez says a loosely organized group of criminals is working together to rip people off and investigators believe this man could be the ringleader. “He’ll conduct the bank fraud and come out and split the money.”

Investigators say this guy has all the victims’ personal information from the stolen wallets, “He’ll go inside the bank and pretend he’s forgetful. The bank teller will help him out and he’s able to go ahead and withdraw money from that account.” The bank tellers don’t know any better because this guy’s picture is on the ID. “It’s approximately $50,000 worth of bank fraud in three different locations that we know of.”

LSU cops have already arrested several people for pick-pocketing. “They have done a great job. They’re tracking most of these individuals now. They’ve made some arrests recently and we’re working in conjunction with them.” All of the victims are between 50 and 70 years old and the thefts always occur at crowded sports events.

Investigators need your help to identify this man. If you can help investigators call Crimestoppers at 466-STOP. You can also call the secret service here in Baton Rouge; their number is in the phonebook. We’ll continue to track this story and alert you to new developments.