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Three strikes ID fraudster jailed for 16 years

Record sentence for recidivist crook

A recidivist ID theft fraudster who used a people search website to verify the authenticity of stolen social security credentials has been jailed for more than 16 years.

Todd Yurgin, 41, of Newark, Delaware, earned the severe sentence because he had twice previously been convicted of federal fraud offences. In sentencing, Chief Judge Sleet described him as a "professional con artist and criminal whose life has been one of deception".

Yurgin's latest wheeze involved stealing the mail of prospective marks before using people search sites including USinfosearch.com to validate social security numbers before applying for credit cards under assumed names. Then, in the only mildly innovative aspect of the scam, he ran up fictitious charges on these cards for non-existent services from a firm that he had established with an accomplice, Joseph Aughenbaugh.

The social security numbers of 93 confirmed victims - including 44 children - were abused to apply for 342 credit cards and 54 bank accounts using valid numbers and fictitious names. Fraudulent charges estimated at close to $1m were run up against these accounts, according to a DoJ statement (pdf) on the sentencing.

Aughenbaugh, Yurgin's accomplice, was jailed for 12 years and one month back in November. Yurgin pleaded guilty to six charges - including fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering - back in August before unsuccessfully attempting to withdraw his guilty plea.

Chief Judge Sleet denied the request and jailed the grifter for a total of 199 months (16 years and seven months) when he appeared before him for sentencing last Thursday. The sentence is the longest ever handed down by a Delaware court for fraud offences.

In response to questions following the sentencing, USinfosearch.com denied the suggestion that its services could be open to abuse by fraudsters.

"Our online tools are clearly designed to prevent fraud and reduce risk," a company spokesman told Computerworld. "Moreover, we do not provide information on juveniles and have no clients by the names listed." ®

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