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Idle Hands Are The Devil's Playthings
August 2, 2011 8:36 AM   Subscribe

Dimorio McDowell had a lot of time on his hands in prison. So, he decided to start up his own retail fraud and ID theft ring, defrauding his victims of almost $1 million before investigators caught up to him.
posted by reenum (21 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Soon, the master con -- who slipped in and out of others' identities more often than most people change underwear"

How dare they sully the good name of Fletch by using the same line!
posted by yerfatma at 8:41 AM on August 2, 2011


I love how simple the identity theft con is. Apparently all it takes is persistence and a bit of charm. A key part of the story is how the head thief gets ahold of a social security number, and once he has that he's able to steal from that person. We really need a better system of national identity than a 9 digit number that's not randomly generated and that hundreds of companies know.
posted by Nelson at 8:54 AM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


McDowell was an unlikely mastermind.
When he was a boy, he scored 67 on an IQ test...


Huh. He must have cheated.
posted by Floydd at 9:11 AM on August 2, 2011


before investigators caught up to him.

"Caught up" suggests pursuit. I am not sure how much of a pursuit there was if he was in one location.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:27 AM on August 2, 2011


wow. that was pretty interesting. he has skills, unfortunately he's using them for evil.
he should be given a job where he's a mystery caller to test the call centers.
of course, they'd have to take away all his electronic devices and writing implements, sort of like Magneto.

i like the last part where he tried his con skills to get himself transferred to another prison.
posted by sio42 at 9:38 AM on August 2, 2011


Social engineering 101.

I like how our criminals are getting smarter. Kind of like how I saw a story about an L.A. street gang making over $100 million through fraudulent mortgage loans involving over 225 properties. And that's just the ones that have been caught.
posted by daq at 9:47 AM on August 2, 2011


I don't think we need more national security policies--we need retailers to wise up.

"temporary shopping pass -- a ticket Lowe's provides people authorized to use someone else's store credit card."

And why is a guy in prison holding a cell phone?
posted by Ideefixe at 9:47 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


"McDowell -- who has a deep baritone voice -- was impersonating a woman as he talked to a credit card company.
It was an excruciatingly bad performance, but the call taker didn't question it."


I'm very impressed by both sides of that call, in different ways of course...
posted by of strange foe at 9:57 AM on August 2, 2011


"Caught up" suggests pursuit. I am not sure how much of a pursuit there was if he was in one location.

Well he did try to con himself a transfer, so maybe not.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:59 AM on August 2, 2011


We really need a better system of national identity than a 9 digit number that's not randomly generated and that hundreds of companies know.

No, no, that's Big Government. With the black helicopters, and RaHoWa, and all. Besides, it would require rejiggering all of those computers, and who the hell wants to pay for that?

No, the easier solution is to just not let prisoners speak to anyone for any reason, lest they be running some type of con.

Upon reflection, we'll probably have to broaden it out a bit, and stop brown people or poor white people from speaking either.

In fact, hell, let's just say: if you're not in the right country club, you're not allowed to speak to another human being for any reason. Note: writing is a form of speech, you filthy communist pig.
posted by aramaic at 10:03 AM on August 2, 2011


This kind of thing just makes me feel like calling up my credit card company to yell at them.
posted by orme at 10:10 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nelson: "We really need a better system of national identity than a 9 digit number that's not randomly generated and that hundreds of companies know."

I wrestle with this particular issue frequently in my day job. The fundamental problem here identity vs proof of identity. Every once in a while I read books and journal articles on mathematical systems that could potentially replace SS numbers nationwide, but then I realize you'd have to explain PKI (or more obscure stuff even Mefites haven't heard of) to people who may or may not have graduated high school.

I do wonder some days, what exactly we will do if the Tea Party dismantles Social Security. But I guess there's some pretty big financial institutions who've got far more at stake than us.
posted by pwnguin at 11:13 AM on August 2, 2011


Good to see Lester Freamon is still hard at work.
posted by dhartung at 11:18 AM on August 2, 2011


Investigators also called the stores where surveillance teams arrived before the shoppers. They asked employees to let the fraudulent transactions go through so investigators could follow the players.

Anyone else read this and think "But how did the employees know the surveillance teams were legit"? and then start spiraling down a Joe Mantegna / Lindsay Crouse rabbit hole?

And how is it again that they can't stop prisoners from using phones?
posted by benito.strauss at 12:14 PM on August 2, 2011


Lesson learned - don't come back the next day to get stuff you bought with a hot card.
posted by randomkeystrike at 12:40 PM on August 2, 2011


They can't stop prisoners from using cell phones because the people in charge of stopping them are the same people who provide them with the phones. The guards.
posted by youthenrage at 1:32 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dimorio McDowell had a lot of time on his hands in prison. So, he decided to start up his own retail fraud and ID theft ring, defrauding his victims of almost $1 million before investigators caught up to him.

What kind of white-collar crime training academy was he being imprisoned in? Even Andy Dufresne didn't pimp out like this.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:37 PM on August 2, 2011


I worked at a place where the boss wanted to question a charge on her father's credit card. He lived abroad, and she didn't want to bother him by having him call up the credit card company so he could authorize her to ask questions.

So she had my coworker, a guy, call up the company and pretend to be her father. With every security question after giving his "name," he would say, "hang on a moment," put the company on hold, ask my boss the question, then pick up the phone again to tell the company.

This is how he gave "his" address, "his" date of birth, "his" social security number, etc.

But all the information was right, so it worked.
posted by Monday at 5:29 PM on August 2, 2011


No, the easier solution is to just not let prisoners speak to anyone for any reason, lest they be running some type of con.

On a cell phone, yes--why not? There's kind of a big jump between speaking to anyone and having a cell phone in your cell all the time.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:32 PM on August 2, 2011


On a cell phone, yes--why not?

Err, no offense, but you seem to have no concept of the ingenuity of prisoners, nor the crass culpability of guards.
posted by aramaic at 5:40 PM on August 2, 2011


The problem with inventing a super-secure national ID is that, when someone does cheat the system, it's much harder for the victim to claim innocence. It's hard enough to convince banks that someone stole your Social Security number; imagine having to explain that yes, you got drunk and let your girlfriend borrow your National ID Smart Card and gave her your PIN, and oops she borrowed a million dollars in your name.
posted by miyabo at 1:07 PM on August 3, 2011


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