Richard Siler, a South Florida man who once played in the National Football League, just received a sentence of nearly 13 years in federal prison.
Siler, who briefly was a member of the Miami Dolphins organization, was sentenced for his role in stealing the identities of more than 5,000 people, including their names and Social Security numbers. This information was then sold to a man who knowingly used them to commit income tax fraud, the jury believed.
Siler, who is now 50 years old, was able to pilfer the information from applications for a variety of financial services, including mortgages, debt consolidation and health care services. The man to whom he sold this illegally-obtained data, Freddie Howard, had used it to bilk roughly $4.5 million in phony tax returns.
However, after being caught by investigators, Howard cooperated and agreed to work undercover in exchange for a reduced sentence, receiving just 4 years in prison. His testimony helped in the conviction of Siler, whose sentence was ultimately more than three times as long as his own.
Per the Department of Justice website, in a recorded conversation, Siler told Howard that he "could sell approximately 'ten thousand' to 'thirteen thousand' people's identity information a week. Siler also told the confidential source that these identities were 'never before revealed.' The evidence at trial established that Siler had worked for a company where he had access to lists of people's personal identity information."
Siler's sentence was even longer than that suggested by the prosecution. While his defense argued that he should receive just eight years, lawyers for the state suggested 11. Judge Darrin Gayles thought neither was harsh enough, sentencing Siler to 12 years and 10 months.
In explaining his decision, Gayles highlighted the inherent trust those affected had put int Siler. He also explained the serious ramifications for those victimized, whose credit ratings had been impaired and some of whose tax refunds had been delayed as a direct result of his actions.
"You just don't seem to get that," Gayle chided, according to the SunSentinal.
Identity theft is a serious matter, and a hazard that you should be well-aware of. A credit monitoring service can be a valuable tool in helping to reduce your risk, by alerting you to certain activity that may indicate theft has occurred. The more knowledge you have regarding your credit, the better equipped you will be to make crucial financial decisions.