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Old-School Identity Thief Slips Under Radar


A classic terror in the vein of Dracula, el Chupacabra and West Nile Virus, identity theft has taken hold of America's quivering souls. The Federal Trade Commission, for instance, recently passed new nationwide standards concerning the proper disposal of certain identity-bearing kinds of paper waste. Countless e-mail programs advertise new, safer, less ID-thief-vulnerable accounts with which to send confidential family newsletters. Insurance companies have even begun offering identity theft insurance on the off chance that victims must miss a day of work to recover themselves. All this, and yet a brand-new poll has concluded that a whopping 75 percent of Americans fear their identity is no safer than it was a year ago from high-tech cyber-muggings. Meanwhile, a woman in Hawaii received welfare checks for 20 years simply by using the Social Security number of a deceased Idaho woman. Sometimes in identity theft, less is more.

Following a three-month welfare fraud investigation, police from Hawaii's Big Island Police Department arrested a woman calling herself Gabriella Victoria Donnelly and claiming to be a citizen of Switzerland. The island's prosecuting attorney said he wasn't sure that either claim was true; what was more clear is that the arrestee had illegally collected over $100,000 in welfare checks since 1983 by claiming to be Karen Johnston, a woman killed in a 1977 car crash in Idaho. Donnelly is currently being held in a Hawaiian jail on $75,000 bail.