Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Update

Just a little warning for fellow residents of JSO jurisdiction: Wearing a Halloween mask in public in public is now illegal. "If you are caught wearing a mask in public and you're over 16, you can face a fine of about $1,000 and a year in prison." [Read about it here.] Wow, I'll sure feel safer this Halloween. Anyway, back to the irregularly scheduled blog...

Sorry I haven't updated my blog in a while. I've made zero progress resolving the Identity Theft issue since last time I wrote, but today I received a phone call that makes me think things are about to change. More on that in a minute, but first I'd like to answer an e-mail...

Tom B wrote:
That’s one hell of a story. What I don’t understand is what the benefit was for this Louis guy to steal your identity if it wasn’t for financial reasons. He still goes to jail either way. Was he using your good credit too or did that criminal record causing you to be banned from working and unable to pay your debts ruin your credit?
I responded:
To answer your question regarding Makenton Louis: He was charged with two counts of aggravated assault with intent to cause serious injury in 1996. As far as I can tell he fled the state on bail and assumed other identities. Despite the fact that he was wanted for such a serious crime he continued to commit more crimes, and when caught he would use another identity. He was able to avoid going to prison or even paying his fines by doing this until 2003. It appears that someone finally figured out who he really was and some of the identities that he used. He was finally incarcerated in December of 2003 and released on parole in October of 2006. He currently resides in Hillside, NJ. Unfortunately several criminal databases still list the identities he used as my AKA's instead of his.

He did not use my good credit--my credit was destroyed when I went from making $25/hr to making $7/hr. I used my credit cards to pay my bills confident that I would soon find another job and be able to pay them off. By the time I figured out what was going on my credit was already wrecked. Since it was legitimate debt that I incurred there isn't really any way to fix it other than paying it off or declaring bankruptcy.

Fortunately my software business has started bringing in enough money to support myself and to start setting things straight. I need to update my blog to reflect this. I appreciate your offer to help and I think the best thing would be to let people know about my blog if you run into anyone that might be interested. This is something that really could happen to anyone. I personally just want to go back to living a normal life, but I would like the problem itself to get more attention. I'm not the only person that this has happened to, and it will continue happening to people until something changes.
In short, he was able to avoid jail and fines because he got a bail bond using my identity and then skipped out on it.

Again, my apologies for waiting so long to update this blog. Also, I'd like to thank the people that donated. The total donations to date are $60. It's not a lot, but one month it saved me from accidentally overdrafting my checking account when I paid my rent. I have since returned the $60 to my savings account.

At this point my financial situation has improved enough that I'm no longer struggling to keep a roof over my head. I've even been able to get medical and dental insurance since the last time I wrote. If anyone still wants to donate because they like my blog, that's great and the money is appreciated. However, I think it's important to let people know my financial situation is no longer as dire as it was when I first added the "donate" button to my blog.

The issue of legal fees was the other reason for the donate button. It looks like I may not need that pricey lawyer anymore after all. Remember that phone call I mentioned at the beginning of this post...? The phone call was from Brian at the Identity Theft Resource Center in California.

The ITRC is a non-profit organization that helps victims of identity theft. I initially contacted the ITRC in June of 2006 when I first found out about my criminal record. At the time they didn't have anyone available to handle my case since it was a Criminal ID Theft case. A couple months later I received a call from a new volunteer at the ITRC named Brian. Brian was retired and volunteered at the Center because his wife had also been a victim of ID theft. I liked him and could tell that he was a dedicated individual, but most of the information he had for me was things I'd already figured out. I guess that was about a year ago.

Last month I received a voicemail from Brian asking me to give him a call and to let him know if I'd had any luck resolving my case. He also said that he'd found out a lot of new stuff since we had originally talked and that if I was stalled he could help out. So we did the phone tag thing for about a month, and then as I was writing this post he finally caught me while I wasn't on the phone. We talked for about 40 minutes. One thing I can tell about Brian is that he can be a bureaucratic paper-pusher's worst nightmare if they aren't willing to do their job; the kind of guy that is going to make you AND your supervisor both wish you'd never gotten out of bed that morning if you give him any crap.

So the good news is Brian says he's got the Florida system figured out. He says he knows which people he needs to talk to and what needs to be done to have this removed from my record.

The next step is for me to go back to the police station and have them take my fingerprints and mugshots so they can be compared with the records in Miami. This is where I got stalled last time. I filed reports with both police stations but then nothing happened.

This time I need to make an appointment with someone from the fraud department if they have one. Either way I have to make sure they know that they need to send my prints and mugshot to Miami-Dade PD. This is where Brian comes in. I'll give him the name and number of the person that takes the report and he will follow up with them for me. He will either help them if they need help or hound them if they need hounding. And he'll do it repeatedly if necessary. For as long as it takes.

The other good news is that Brian is no longer a volunteer, but is now a full-time employee at the ITRC. He told me he can sit on the phone all day now hounding people to solve these problems. And I can tell he enjoys doing it too.

Next post: Very Good News


Anonymous said...

Yikes. It's pretty sad that the guy who messed up your life and the lives of so many others through his violent crimes and identity thefts only got 3 years in prison.

Thank you for posting the update, and please keep them coming. There is so much information out there concerning financial identity theft, but as you know, there is nothing out there about criminal ID theft.

You're doing a great service by providing this information, and continuing to document all of the knowledge you've gained.

Gene said...

That's great news. I can't believe (ok, maybe I can) that it's taken this long to even see the hint of some forward progress. Hopefully having an advocate working in your interest will help out immensely.