His business cards proclaimed him to be the “Father of Identity Theft” and it was identity theft that, ultimately, earned a Memphis man convictions on a raft of federal charges Tuesday.
A federal jury found James Jackson, 58, guilty of 13 counts of mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, access device fraud, and theft of mail, according to U.S. Attorney Michael Dunavant.
A week-long jury trial here outlined Jackson’s moves in 2014 and 2015 to steal the identities of victims — most of them dead — and steal money from banks, financial companies, and individuals.
Jackson would scour online obituaries and news articles to find those who had recently passed away. He’d then find out if they had any credit cards or investment accounts.
He’d then use that information to impersonate the victim. He’d then convince banks and other companies to send him new debit and credit cards, according to Dunavant. Jackson had recruited another person to withdraw funds from the victim accounts and to purchase gift cards. In one instance, Jackson’s scheme caused the sale of $340,000 from one victim’s stock account.
Jackson’s scheme began to unravel in February 2015 when he called the Cordova Post Office claiming to be Charles Fulks. He was inquiring about a credit card package that should have been delivered that day to 10022 Cameron Ridge Trail.
But United States Postal Inspectors and members of the Tennessee Highway Patrol Identity Crimes Unit knew this was the work of an imposter. They discovered Fulks died before the call came in to the post office. Also, the they discovered the address was a vacant house at the time.
Agents watched the vacant house and after 12 hours they watched Jackson walk across the street to get the credit card package from the mailbox and walk back to his house.
They later saw smoke coming out of Jackson’s home. No one answered the door when the agents announced their presence. Once inside, they found that several small fires had been set around the house “in what appeared to be an attempt to destroy evidence,” according to officials. They also discovered Jackson “pretending to be asleep.”
A search of Jackson’s home yielded a guide entitled “How to Find Anyone and Anything.” A look through Jackson’s computers found searches of obituaries and news articles of the recently deceased.
In a search of Jackson’s mother’s home, agents found a box of Jackson’s business cards. On them, Jackson claimed to be the “Father of Identity Theft,” “Member of World Positive Thinker’s Club,” and “identity theft expert.” The card also supposed Jackson to be the owner of a company called ”One You Security,” with the slogan “because there should only be one you.”
Jackson faces up to 30 years in prison. The sentence is based on his convictions here and prior convictions for mail fraud, credit card fraud, and bank fraud from the Southern District of New York, and mail fraud, credit card fraud, and Social Security fraud from the Western District of Tennessee.
Jackson’s sentencing hearing is set for December 13th, 2019, before U.S. District Court Judge John T. Fowlkes Jr.
“Aggravated identity theft and schemes to defraud or compromise the personal and financial security of vulnerable and deceased victims will not be tolerated,” Dunavant said in a statement. “This case demonstrates our commitment to protect the personal and financial information of citizens and institutions, and to hold offenders accountable for these disturbing crimes of dishonesty.
“We are pleased to work with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to achieve justice for the victims in this case.”