Former Broward court clerk pleads guilty to identity theft – Sun Sentinel
A Broward County court clerk on Monday joined the ever-growing ranks of workforce employees convicted of using job-related computer systems to commit identity theft.
South Florida has emerged as the epicenter of identity theft scams, leading the nation’s largest metro areas in reports of identity theft for three straight years, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
Porscha Kyles, 25, of Davie, pleaded guilty Monday to using her work computer to steal drivers’ names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers and other personal information while working at the public counter in the traffic and misdemeanor division in the county courthouse in downtown Fort Lauderdale. She then sold the information to another person who used it to file fraudulent income tax returns. The co-conspirator is not identified in court documents.
At a federal court hearing Monday afternoon, Kyles pleaded guilty to two felonies: a conspiracy charge and one count of aggravated identity theft.
The number of South Florida identity complaints doubled from 2011 to 2012, the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book reported earlier this year. Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties had 35,914 reports of identity theft in 2012 — or 645.4 complaints per 100,000 population, the FTC report said. In 2011, the number of reports was 17,546. Recent court cases indicate employees in the workforce are turning to the computer systems they access at work to steal personal information.
Earlier this month, a Fort Lauderdale federal jury convicted a City of Miami police officer of using his department laptop to illegally look up random drivers’ personal information on a state database and fraudulently filing income tax returns with the information. In July, a respiratory therapist for South Miami Hospital admitted in federal court that she stole the names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers of more than 800 patients.
A former patient scheduler at Boca Raton Regional Hospital was sentenced in July to one and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to stealing patients’ identity information and passing the information on to another woman who used it to file as many as 56 fraudulent tax returns.
In February, a senior clerk at the Palm Beach Health Department was arrested and charged with using her job to steal identity information from more than 2,800 patients. She faces up to five years in prison when she is sentenced Jan. 9.
And back in 2011, a Broward School District employee was sentenced to more than five years in federal prison for pilfering teachers’ personal information and selling it to identity thieves.
Forman, Broward’s Clerk of Courts, wasn’t specific but said his office has “taken extra precautions” since Kyles’ arrest to ensure other employees aren’t tempted to do the same.
“Ninety-nine percent of our employees have been honest and they continue to be honest,” Forman said. “But, you always have to be on your guard.”
Kyles was fired in May after co-workers and state officials noticed suspicious computer database activity.
According to the federal indictment, Kyles was authorized to use the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ Driver and Vehicle Information Database while assisting local residents with traffic tickets and driver-related criminal cases.
But Kyles’ frequent use of the database triggered a red flag which led to the discovery that she was stealing motorists’ identities.
Court records did not specify how many identities were stolen, but U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenbaum said Monday that there were at least 10 victims and the loss was between $120,000 and $200,000.
In exchange for Kyles’ guilty plea, federal prosecutors agreed to drop five additional felony charges.
Kyles will remain free on $100,000 bond until she is sentenced.
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