Not everyone who commits identity theft does so for completely malicious reasons. Sometimes it’s a family member who has fallen on hard times who, in a lapse of judgement, may use a younger relative’s Social Security number to take out a loan. There are also cases of illegal immigrants who, in desperation, resort to stealing someone’s identity in order to gain employment in the United States because job prospects in their home country are bleak but can’t work here legally. However, no matter how sympathetic these criminals may be, the fact that identity theft is never a victim-less crime makes it difficult to argue that the federal government’s harsh penalties for identity thieves are not justified.
There are also many instances of individuals who maliciously defrauded not only American citizens but even the government in selfish attempts at making a profit. For instance, in September 2013, Los Angeles residents Michael Williams and Mike Niko conspired with others to steal Social Security numbers from the California Department of Social Services in order to collect thousands of dollars in fraudulent tax refunds. Williams was sentenced to 33 months in prison and ordered to pay almost $780,000 in restitution for the crime by the court, while Niko was given a 15-month jail sentence and a fee of roughly $105,000.
Another case of ID theft that took place in September 2013 involved a Florida man who committed wire fraud to finance hundreds of thousands of dollars in retail goods and services in many of the state's premier tourist destinations. He was ordered to 174 months in prison and to forfeit more than $2 million, while a co-conspirator was given 234 months of jail time as a result.
These are just two of many examples of individuals who took advantage of unwitting citizens for selfish gain and were rightly held accountable for their actions. However, the victims of these crimes still have to deal with the financial hardship of digging out from the theft, so it is best to be proactive about identity theft services so that you can take proper actions once you think you identify theft.