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New Bill Would Make it Easier to Prosecute Identity Theft

A new bill introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) would give law enforcement greater latitude when prosecuting identity theft cases.

The bill (H.R. 5408) would amend existing law to make it clear that prosecutors need not prove that the alleged perpetrator knew that stolen documents were those of another flesh-and-blood person rather than a fictional identity when trying to convict a defendant for identity theft. Current federal law requires that someone must knowingly use the identification “of another person” to be convicted of identity theft.

(Learn how that payment card in your wallet opens you to identity theft in " You Won't Get Skimmed Again" from Security Management coverage of ISC West.)

The bill was introduced in light of a 2009 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court ( Flores-Figueroa v. United States). In the case, the Court ruled that the government could not prosecute a Mexican citizen for identity theft after he presented counterfeit Social Security and alien registration cards to his employer. (The cards contained the perpetrator’s name but the stolen ID numbers of other individuals.) The Court determined that the prosecution could not proceed because the government could not prove that the perpetrator knew that the false numbers belonged to other people and were not simply fabricated.

The bill has three cosponsors and has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.H.R. 5408.pdfFlores figueroa v us.doc

♦ Photo byDon Hankins/Flickr