Security

Florida Man sues Verizon for $72m – for letting him commit identity theft

2017 is off to a flying start

By Shaun Nichols in San Francisco

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A Florida inmate is suing Verizon Wireless after he used one of the telco's stores to commit identity theft.

James Leslie Kelly, who is serving a prison term in the US state for grand theft and criminal use of personal information, is seeking $72m in damages from the telecom giant. He claims a Verizon shop in Highlands County was negligent when it allowed him to steal another man's identity.

According to WFTV, Kelly entered the store on May 7, 2015 and accessed the account of another man named "James Kelly" to obtain $300 worth of "products and services." Kelly, who has a criminal history dating back to 1985, was later arrested and charged.

Now, Kelly is filing a suit of his own in the Central Florida District court, claiming that Verizon violated his civil rights by allowing him to commit the crimes. In a handwritten complaint [PDF] submitted to the court, the 37‑time-convicted criminal alleges that the store and its employees were criminally negligent in failing to stop the identity theft ruse.

Kelly's complaint claims that over the 90 minutes he was in the store committing the fraud, Verizon employees and store managers missed multiple opportunities to catch him, including not noticing that there was a different middle name on his driver's license than that of the victim.

"The defendants at all times material knew or should have known that at minimum harm and damages would occur to others, including the plaintiff, as a result of negligent training and supervision of its employees, agents, officers, and sales personell (sic)," the 16-page complaint reads.

Kelly's claim seeks $72m in damages for counts of negligence (wanton), negligent training and supervision, and violation of his civil rights.

Unfortunately, he does not seem likely to cash in on that payday. The district court is already moving to have the case thrown out. ®

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