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Identity Thief Targets Brain Injury Victims

Those who suffer from a brain injury will undoubtedly face many challenges throughout their lives, particular if the injury is severe with permanent damage resulting. Each Illinois brain injury lawyer at our firm works with families to receive redress after these accidents in large part because of the vulnerabilities that their loved one will face because of the injury. It is unfortunate but undeniable that when these injuries strike, the victims not only have to contend with the immense challenges of living their own lives while physical and mental disabilities, but they may also be faced with the added challenge of protecting themselves against those who wish to take advantage of their situation.

For example, ABC News reported this weekend on a string of crimes that have been called “shameless” involving a man who stole the identities of dozens of individuals with brain injuries. The case is a reminder that there remain individuals throughout our community who are willing to prey on those in unique circumstances simply because they make easier targets. Like attacking children or seniors, taking advantage of a community member with a brain injury suggests particularly depraved character. The risk of this sort of situation is another reason why those who have suffered these injuries need to have resources to provide proper protection of their interests.

In this situation, the alleged criminal used personal information from those with brain injuries to file false tax returns on their behalf. The man then kept the refund money himself. This was done for nearly fifty different individuals. The alleged thief worked at the Long Island Head Injury Association where he was a manager. Apparently he used his position and access to personal records to exploit those who had trusted him.

The crimes were apparently begun in 2006, when the man access records of certain patients to steal their Social Security numbers and other information which allowed him to file the tax returns. Right now investigators know that the filings were made in two different states, but they suspect that taxes may have been filed in others as well.

The man received smaller returns-anywhere from $200 to $2,000-in an effort to avoid arousing much suspicion. The money was kept in over dozen different bank accounts. The scheming apparently went on for several years before it was caught.

Our Chicago brain injury attorneys appreciate that what made this crime particularly unscrupulous was the very thing that made it difficult for investigators to get to the bottom of it-the brain injury victims themselves often couldn’t help put the pieces together. For example, the story explains how one victim was an Ivy League student who suffered a traumatic brain injury after being assaulted. Investigators had trouble getting information from the individual because his memory had been severely affected by the previous injury. The man essentially forgot who the investigators were after only a minute of talking. Obviously, not being able to get accurate information from those involved in these identity theft schemes is a serious impediment to putting a criminal case together.

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