News 12 at 11 O'clock / Thursday, October 10, 2013
Augusta, G.a. (WRDW) - It's hidden among all of the junk.
News 12's Patrick Price asks Jamira Mobley, "Is this your social security number?"
Her response, "Yes."
After getting a tip from a worker at a local junkyard in Augusta, News 12 did some digging.
We found Jamira Mobley's identity underneath all the junk in an old car.
"Oh wow, social security number, birth date," News 12's Patrick Price said.
Cameras were rolling as we recovered a total of 26 identities from the junkyard in less than two hours.
"Yeah, I got a deposit slip right here," said News 12's Patrick Price.
Your life, your identity, sitting right there waiting for anyone to find.
"If you think about it, anywhere you keep your personal, private information, you're vulnerable," said Richard Goolsby, a lawyer in Augusta.
Her identity is Jamira Mobley. Twenty years old, in college, Single with one child. The piece of paper we found, told us everything.
"I stopped filling out the application and I left it in the car," she said.
The car was in a wreck and ended up here on April 25, 2012.
"You would think that by them having gotten the car, that everything would have been cleared out," Mobley said.
More than a year later, her personal papers still littered the car.
"It's shocking, it really is, that you got my information from a junkyard," Mobley told News 12's Patrick Price.
Another woman's job application, dated April 28, 2011, was found too.
Her social security number, front and center.
We found someone Elses bank information including their account number, social security number, birth date and address.
And if that's not scary enough, we found a man's original birth certificate.
"I think you could create a whole new identity," said Goolsby.
News 12 started making some calls. First, to local car lots then credit card companies.
Patrick Price: "I'm trying to see what information I need to purchase a new vehicle."
Operator: "The only thing you'll need is your name, address, social security number."
In just a few minutes, we could have gotten a car, opened multiple credit cards, and even bought a house.
"Potential victims make it easy by leaving their information where the bad guys can get it," said Goolsby.
He's seen it happen many times. He's a former federal prosecutor now working as a lawyer in one of the nations busiest states for identity theft.
In 2012, eight Georgia metro cities were among the nations top 50 cities with the most identity theft related cases.
Listed are those eight cities:
8. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, 12. Valdosta, 14. Albany, 15. Columbus, 20. Savannah, 25. Macon, 39. Warner Robbins, 44. Augusta-Richmond County
After hitting the junkyard jackpot, we wonder, could the problem get worse?
"I haven't seen identity theft in this precise context but it doesn't surprise me a bit," said Goolsby.
A crime taking just seconds to commit, could mean years of consequences for a potential victim like Jamira.
"She's lucky, she's fortunate that you found her information, what if some unscrupulous identity thief had found it," he said.
Jail time for the crime in Georgia can range from two to ten years in prison, per count.
Plus a hefty 100,000 dollar fine
In South Carolina,criminals can expect the same. And then there's this.
There's basically two of you using the same social security number, same name, same everything.
"Victims have been prosecuted erroneously by authorities who think that you, the victim, were the bad guy out using the information to defraud others," he said,
Make no mistake about it, the identity we found and returned, is upset and shocked but she's one of the lucky ones.
Her information is back where it belongs.
"My daddy told me a million times, be careful what I do with my information, and I never would have known it would have went this far, never," said Mobley.
We returned all of Jamira's information to her, along with a promise that she keep those valuable numbers safe in the future.
As for all of the other identities we found, we have not gotten in contact with any of the other 25 people.
The list below are all of the names of the people who we couldn't return information to.
If you are or know any of these people, please have them contact the News 12 newsroom at (803) 278-3111 and ask for Patrick Price, or contact Patrick at Patrick.Price@wrdw.com.
If we do not receive contact, we will shred all documents for the safety of those who lost them.