PA: Shoulder-surfing identity thief sentenced to prison

Back in December, 2014, the Department of Justice reported that in July, a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh had indicted Robert MacVittie and Jennifer MacVittie on charges of conspiracy, Social Security fraud and aggravated identity theft. The couple was arrested in November, 2014, on charges that beginning around October 2013, they had used cell phone cameras to “shoulder surf” Social Security numbers from Walmart customers nationwide by taking cell phone images of the customers who were cashing checks at the customer service counters. The stolen information was later used to negotiate counterfeit checks at Walmart stores throughout the U.S., including Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Florida, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Kansas and more than one dozen other states.

The couple pleaded guilty in September, and this week, Robert MacVittie was sentenced to 34 months in prison.  At his sentencing, MacVittie apologized and said that it was debts from compulsive gambling that had driven the illegal conduct. His wife will be sentenced on March 8.

According to prosecutors, the two defrauded Walmart for $301,000, and more than 400 people had their identities used on the successfully cashed counterfeit checks. All told, the prosecutor said, the couple stole or attempted to steal the identities of more than 900 people.


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