In which we learn that creative crooks can can steal your identity no matter how careful you are with your paid bills, cancelled cheques, user IDs and PINs…

It can happen to you

You may have caught wind of a bizarre incident, in which a farmer from Oregon was targeted by crooks who made dozens of ordinary people unwitting accomplices in a house burglary. The story was all over the Internet for couple of weeks in late March and Early April. Observers were calling the occurrence ‘bizarre’ and ‘unusual’. But, as we’ll see by the end of this two-part feature, this kind of thing is becoming more and more common. And it can happen in your back yard.

Net an unwitting accomplice

When the farmer went out of town for a few days, the crooks posted a fake Craig’s List ad in his name, saying that he was, in fact, moving out of state permanently and all of his worldly goods were for free for the taking.

Sounds far-fetched, I know… But dozens of people — many of whom drove considerable distances — believed the tale, came to the man’s house bright and early the next morning and started carting off whatever they could carry.

It turned out that a ‘Bonney and Clyde’ team of small-time crooks had set the whole thing up to cover their own tracks. They had apparently ‘viewed’ the farmhouse, which was up for rent, a few days earlier and thoroughly cased the joint. It was then that they learned the owner was headed out of town for a few days.

They came back as soon as the man left for his long weekend and took everything in which they were specifically interested. Then, they posted the fake ad and let human nature (i.e.- greed) take it’s impartial and majestic course.

Police tracked down the crooks from Craig’s List account information and arrested them a few days later. Most but not all of the goods removed from the house and property were eventually recovered or voluntarily returned. Ironically, the stuff that was not returned was taken not by the crooks but by anonymous citizens who had responded to the fake ad. Chalk up another one to human nature.

Tomorrow, in Part II: Another place, another case, an eerily similar scam…

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