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‘Serial ID thieves’ banned from auction sites

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A US Federal Court last week imposed an order prohibiting two alleged ID fraudsters from taking part in Internet auctions. The duo was also ordered to pay more than $93,000 in compensation to consumers at the end of a civil case brought by US consumer watchdogs.

James B. Thompson and Susan B. Germek allegedly used stolen identities to sell nonexistent goods in online auctions in a ruse designed to make it appear that innocent third parties were guilty of fraud.

Since the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued them in April 2003, Thompson and Germek have been indicted for mail fraud in connection with the allegedly fraudulent auctions by the US. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Illinois.

Germek has pleaded guilty on one count of mail fraud and is awaiting sentencing. Thompson is awaiting trial.

According to the FTC, the pair have run bogus auctions for computer software and electronics since early 1999.

The pair allegedly changed their auction account names to conceal their fraud prior to 2001 when the defendants embarked on "serial identity theft".

The duo set up bank accounts and post office boxes in other people’s names for the receipt of payments for auctions, the FTC alleges. According to the FTC, the ID victims were acquaintances of Thompson, people whose identity information Germek had taken from the records of a suburban Chicago hotel, and even a person who had died.

In a court judgement the defendants were permanently barred from participating in Internet auctions, making false claims about having and being able to deliver merchandise to consumers, and misusing consumers’ personal information. The court ordered Thompson to pay $88,000 in compensation to consumers.

Germek, who agreed to settle the charges against her, agreed to pay $5,714 to consumers in settlement for her misdemeanours. She also agreed to a suspended judgment ordering her to pay $41,187 if she is found to have misrepresented her financial situation. ®

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