When Brian applied for a mortgage in summer 2003, he had little idea that one of the employees at the firm handling his paperwork would steal his personal information and use it to steal his identity – literally. The thief obtained Brian’s employment history, credit reports and even personal family information off of his mortgage application and assumed Brian’s identity. The crook then moved to Orange County, California, where he obtained employment at another mortgage firm using Brian’s name and employment history. Soon thereafter, the thief purchased a home, a car, and paid for utilities using the stolen information.

Brian learned about the theft while applying for a car loan and discovering that his credit score had plummeted 200 points. Determined to uncover why he had such an abysmal rating and a whopping 82 credit inquires in a single year, Brian discovered that he had become a victim of identity theft, and the perpetrator was in Southern California living a life using his stolen information. Brian alerted the authorities and started his own investigation into the theft which led him to the Orange County mortgage firm where the crook worked. He called the firm, and was patched through to the thief, who answered using Brian’s full name.

“I almost had a heart attack,” recounts Brian, who was astounded to be speaking with the crook. Brian quickly hung up, but suspected that the thief recognized the voice on the other end of the line. Fortunately, the crook was tracked down and captured by police soon thereafter and is now serving a sentence for fraud and other charges.

Brian continues to clean up the mess left behind by the identity thief. Recently, he received a notice from the IRS regarding returns filed by the thief, and still battles to improve his damaged credit score. “It astounds me that he was living under my name,” says Brian, who is still weary about what other things the crook could have done using his stolen personal information. “I have no idea what I’m going to find in the mail the next day.”