Court Ordered Identity Theft

© 2008-2010 Brian Mork
Increa Technology

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What is Your Identity?

id-card-jpgAny identification you have, or computer record about you is not about who you are.  Rather it is about who you have been. It proves what your history is: law abiding citizen, good investor, parent who dropped off child, or enrolled college student. Whatever. You got the ID to prove what you were at some point in time, and by flashing the ID you prove you are connected to that history. If you want to know more about this concept of being defined by your data record, you can read the prior Increa Technology Blog post.

Someone stealing your identity doesn't care who you are. What they are after is who you have been. They want to be the person with good credit. Or that person with a certain demographic. Or that person with insurance privileges. Or that person who has already accumulated money in the bank. The record of your past transactions is what gives you everything from a credit score to an eBay bid history.

Taking your history then, is, by definition, identity theft.

Court Ordered Transfer of Identity.

I was aghast recently to learn of a court-ordered identity theft. What I mean is a sitting judge ordered an entire financial history to be transfered from one person to the other. A clarification was asked at the court hearing, and the judge casually looked at the templated order his own secretary had generated, which read "account #102-000-9834".  There was no reason for it to specify "the value of account #102-000-9834" because prior to internet accounts, there was a broader identity composing an account like a physical signature card and physical bank book. But now, the distinction is very signficant. The order said the account, so the entire account, with all its history, was ordered to be transfered.  Not just the dollar amount. In the internet realm, this meant the entire identity and history of a Paypal account was given to someone else.judge-hammer.gif

Actually what was ordered was a change in the account access password, name, and the social security number. That's it. Happens easy in 6 seconds on a computer screen. Traditionally, asset transfers have been done by creating a new account and transferring the balance in dollars or stock shares, or whatever. This is different. The name and social security number on the account are simply replaced. Everything else stays the same.

If you work in the Internet commerce world, you understand by doing this, the judge ordered your entire eBay bid history, feedback history, and trust-factor be given to someone else. It would also include your linked Paypal account, and every transaction pre-authorized and scheduled there. In addition, the recognition factor of your internet user names to othes in the community.  User "bob_the_dealer" is now somebody else and everybody still thinks it's you.  Not only illegal transfer of history, illegal transfer of identity, now it's court approved fraud!  A history and reputation that took years of time and dollars to build instantly becomes the history and character and identity of someone else.

I have never heard of such a thing before. I know judges can order asset transfers to settle court cases. But never before did I know a judge can order your financial history to be switched over and now belong to another person.  I think due to tremendous slopiness and lack of technical savvy, the legal industry doesn't yet understand what they're doing.  Unless there is demonstrable financial loss, deep financial resources of the injured person, and patience to appeal through an Appeal Court, these identity theft actions will remain unchallenged.

After Your Identity is Taken

The new owner, of course, has full access to account assets. This is normally what a judgment or settlement is meant to include. In a world of internet identities, controlled by the order of judges who do not understand the new financial age, a judge can unknowingly or knowingly do much more.

Specifically, by transferring the account itself rather than the value in the account, it is as if the new owner is you, and can interact with any merchantas you through the pre-approved bank account number and username. The new owner has full access and knowledge of every financial transaction you ever did with the account. The person has full access to your account history. Prior business dealings, prior friends, prior purchase records. Everything. When they pull their account history, it is what used to be your history. Isn't there some privacy act law against this?bank-statement.png

What the other party has gained is part of the illegality.  It is also against statute to deprive you of what you have lost. Once the transfer occurs, you do not have access to any prior transactions, history, or records. This information was more than shared with another; it was taken from you. In addition to ordering that someone else gets to use your identity and have access to information that was never theirs, such a court order deprives you of rightfully accessing that information.  Assets can/should be transfered under certain circumstances, but never to deprive the owner of the transactions access to their history.  Anything as simple as an IRS audit may require documentation that is now no longer available.

Lastly, in a situation like Paypal or eBay, imagine that the bank account is linked to other assets like credit cards and ACH (Automated Clearing House) pre-authorized transfers.  Now the new owner has full capability to empty your other linked accounts because they have full capability to simulate YOU as an internet user. Paypal won't un-link the secondary account upon your request because you no longer own the account! The linked bank won't prevent the transfer because it is a "pre-approved merchant ACH" transfer, which can only be stopped by the merchant.


Under these circumstances, the identity of a person has been illegally taken by another person with the authority of a court.  If there is anything about this idea you think this is wrong, and you have ideas to mitigate the effect or stop such happenings, please contact me. If there is any way to legally reverse such a court order or hold appropriate parties responsible because of the identity theft involved, I would like to know how to do it.

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Revision 1.0 - This shell of this document was created using AbiWord under the Linux Gnome desktop. Content was adjusted using Kompozer under Mandriva 2008.1 Linux.