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Wednesday, 24 October 2007 13:24

Identify Thief gets own identity outed

Written by David Stellmack

Image

Court system claims accidental


Timothy Scott Short
has been arrested in connection with theft and identity theft, only days after he made technical support phone calls to the printer manufacturer, Digimarc Corporation, for equipment that he had just stolen.

Police say that Short was arrested for the theft of a printer and PC from the State of Missouri Department of Revenue that contained the confidential information of about 500 Missouri residents.  Apparently, Short was unable to make the stolen equipment work and called the manufacturer’s technical support desk, where he revealed the serial numbers and other information that identified it as the stolen equipment.  A U.S. Secret Service Special Agent investigating the Department of Revenue theft recognized Short’s voice on the help desk recording of the call. And, to add insult to his injury, Short’s confidential data (including his Social Security Number, name and address) obtained through his arrest record and pending case was accidentally made public through a breach in the U.S. District Court’s Electronic Case Files (ECF) system.

The IDG News Service discovered Short's personal information listed on a publicly available court document called a Criminal Case Cover Sheet. While this information is normally only available to those involved in the case it was apparently accidentally made public through a breach in the way the information is normally handled. The U.S. Judicial Conference, which sets policy for all U.S. courts, indicated that this kind of information should be removed from publicly available electronic court records, but that actually removing all the sensitive information has been difficult due to the number of jurisdictions that are handling criminal defendants, and particularly where the identity of those defendants is tracked by their Social Security Numbers as well as their names.

Short’s identity theft is not his biggest problem, obviously.  He is looking at fines of $250,000 plus 10 years in prison on charges of possession of "document-making implements" in connection with the stolen equipment and attempted identity theft.  As to his personal data being “outed,” we think it’s a kind of poetic justice.

Read more here.

Last modified on Wednesday, 24 October 2007 13:46

David Stellmack

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