Identity thieves often use unsavory means to gather personal information that they can then use to exploit their victims.
A stolen wallet can lead to credit chaos and theft. Personal information offered up irresponsibly online can result in devastating turmoil with a victim’s financial situation.
In one recent case in Colorado, however, a convicted thief used more creative means to gain the confidence of his identity theft victim: according to prosecutors, he pretended to be a professional football player.
According to a report from ABC 7 News in Denver, Colorado, Amadeus Harlan, who often went by the name Johnny, told his victims that he played professional football for the NFL's Denver Broncos.
Weaving stories about sports ventures and a non-existent pro football career, Harlan conned his victims into providing him with their private financial information.
Harlan would then use this information to illegally procure loans used to purchase expensive cars. His recent convictions include Identity Theft and Aggravated Motor Vehicle Theft. The jury deciding on the case deliberated for less than an hour before returning the guilty verdict in the four-day-long trial.
The conviction resulted from Harlan’s purchase of a Nissan in 2007. He bought the car under the name of a woman whom he had conned. Harlan led the woman to believe that he was a former Denver Bronco football player, and that he was starting a business surrounding sports tournaments. He convinced the woman to apply for a job, and used that private information to make the illegal car purchase.
That private information included her social security number, birthday and a copy of her driver’s license.
One way to minimize the effects of identity theft is to keep an eye on your own credit report and financial records. Another more stressful way to learn is from the notification of a financial institution, letting you know that something with an account seems awry. In some cases, the harm done by identity theft has led to some filing bankruptcy.
This was the case for Harlan’s victim, who learned about the strange purchases when her bank contacted her about missed payments on the automobiles: a $50,000 Chevy Avalanche and a $40,000 Nissan bought in her name. The victim had to retrieve her credit report to find out the facts in the situation: That Harlan had illegally leveraged her credit in order to buy the vehicles.
Apparently, Harlan had prepared an extensive cover story for the employees of the Nissan dealership. According to the news report, the employees remembered Harlan well, because he had spent a good deal of time bragging about being a football player for the Denver Broncos. He also claimed that the woman whose credit he was using, whom he claimed was his wife, couldn’t know about the purchase because he was buying the car for an extramarital girlfriend.
Harlan has an extensive history of identity theft and even more serious crime. He had stolen vehicles in the past, buying luxury cars, SUVs and sports cars through the same illicit methods. His previous felony convictions include homicide, theft, motor vehicle theft and criminal impersonation.