June 15, 2006
Springfield, Mo. — Two Springfield residents are facing criminal charges that they used the stolen identity of an acquaintance to make numerous withdrawals totaling more than $3,000 from the alleged victim's bank account, including ATM withdrawals and charges to online poker sites.
The charges of identity theft filed by Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Darrell Moore against Jason N. Waln (DOB - 6/21/74) and Norma J. Black (DOB - 8/27/72), of the 3600 block of S. Park Lane, come after an investigation by Moore's office, the office of Attorney General Jay Nixon and the Springfield Police Department. Nixon's office has been appointed to assist with the case, the fourth identity theft case that Nixon is helping to prosecute in the last four months.
The probable cause statements filed with the charges state that the victim, who resides in the Hickory County town of Pittsburg, reported to Nixon's office in April that someone had accessed her bank account to make ATM withdrawals, purchase items at a Springfield discount store, and use on several online gambling sites. The victim believed the information and some cash had been stolen from her purse after she spent the night at the home of the defendants.
An investigation by the Attorney General's Office, Springfield police and Greene County prosecutors culminated in the execution of a search warrant at the defendants' home last Thursday (June 8) and the seizing of evidence.
Waln and Black are each charged with one count of identity theft, a class C felony under Missouri law. A class C felony is punishable upon conviction by a maximum of seven years in prison and a $5,000 fine. As in all criminal cases, the charges against the defendants are merely accusations, and they are presumed innocent until or unless proven guilty in a court of law.
“We will continue to work with local prosecutors to share our expertise in identity theft cases,” Nixon said. “We are currently helping to prosecute several cases where the defendants allegedly used the Internet to steal personal information and run up large and numerous purchases. In this situation, the charges allege that the information was stolen from an unsecured purse. It's important for consumers to safeguard their sensitive personal information, whether it be online or in their purses or wallets.”
Nixon's office also is assisting with the prosecution of identity theft cases in Jefferson and Polk counties, unrelated to the Greene County case. Those charges are alleging that three Miami, Fla., residents and a Savannah, Ga., resident used personal information stolen from Missourians through the Internet to purchase electronics, gift cards and other items. Those cases are currently pending.
The Attorney General encourages Missourians to help prevent themselves from becoming victims of identity theft. Some of the tips Nixon suggests are:
Nixon also encourages consumers to watch out for identity theft by checking monthly bank statements, credit-card statements and their credit report, which they can do for free three times a year at www.annualcreditreport.com or 877-322-8228.