Typewriter puts identity thieves in Federal prison

Typewriter ribbons key evidence in indentity theft case

Call it a case of the old technology world invading and in this case helping the new. According to law enforcement officials in Kansas, a father and son team was sentenced to federal prison on identity theft charges this week in large part thanks to old electric typewriter ribbons. 

The story, according to the US Department of Justice, investigators  served a search warrant at the home of Benito and Jose Dominguez and seized materials for manufacturing fraudulent documents including templates for Social Security cards, permanent resident alien cards and driver's licenses, a device for laminating cards, and notebooks containing handwritten names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers. 

Enter the typewriter: In an electric typewriter, investigators found a ribbon containing approximately 400 names and Social Security numbers. Investigators determined that 41 of the Social Security numbers in the notebook matched the Social Security numbers listed on employee documents for current employees of Engineered Air, a manufacturing company in DeSoto, Kansas. 

In addition, 26 current or former Engineered Air employees worked under Social Security numbers listed on the typewriter ribbons. Most of the Social Security numbers matched real persons whose names were listed along with the Social Security numbers on the typewriter ribbon, the DOJ stated. 

Other reports noted that Benito Dominguez was charging others approximately $350 for a full set of fraudulent documents, which included a Social Security card and a resident alien card. 

Father and son pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft  and making a false identification document. The father got 54 months while the son received 48 months in the joint. 

For the ninth year in a row identity theft - particularly in Arizona and California -- was the number one consumer complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission in 2008.  Of 1,223,370 complaints received in 2008, 313,982 - or 26%- were related to identity theft. 

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