Here’s another case where it’s clear there’s been some compromise of PII, but we have no idea how from what law enforcement tells us:
According to documents filed in court, Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD) officers executed a search warrant at [Travonn Xavier Russell’s] residence on January 18, 2012. During the search, MDPD officers found the following inside the residence: distribution quantities of different types of narcotics (cocaine, MDMA, and marijuana); paraphernalia associated with narcotics distribution; two firearms; approximately 129 debit cards in various names; tax return documents in names other than the defendant’s; and multiple notebooks with personal identifying information (names, dates of birth, and social security numbers) of 442 individuals.
The criminal complaint also indicated that they found “various employment applications with personal identifying information along with photocopies of driver’s licenses belonging to individuals other than Russell” and “additional photocopies of social security cards and driver’s licenses in names other than Russell.”
With respect to the notebooks, the complaint states:
Notebooks with hundreds of hand-written entries with names, social security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, occupations, e-mail addresses with password, date accepted, date filed and dollar amount – none of which were in the name of RUSSELL (numerous entries of personal identifying information in the notebooks match the names embossed on the debit cards).
So where did he get the identity info? They don’t say. In fact, nowhere in the court records that I read does it mention the source of the identity information. You’d think law enforcement might ask or make a point of finding out, right? Apparently not.
I had an interesting conversation recently with someone knowledgeable about USAO press releases. He informed me that there were actually very strict laws about what they are allowed to include in press releases and that the releases cannot go beyond the public record. That makes sense, I suppose, but it is still frustrating because I think it should be in the court documents.
I wish prosecutors would make it part of any plea deal that the defendant has to explain how/where they got the identity information.
But that’s in the World According to Dissent. Most law enforcement officials don’t inhabit that world. 🙂