ID Theft made easy by piecing shredded paper together like a puzzle
By Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times Local News. May 2, 2012
Santa Clarita Valley – Grant Lind allegedly was a dumpster diver with a lot of patience and a talent for putting together puzzle pieces.
Lind, 49, was charged last month with 44 felony counts in connection with a check counterfeiting scheme, according to authorities who say he gleaned bank account information from shredded checks he plucked from a Valencia dumpster.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department launched an investigation after a Castaic church reported bank account information had been stolen and used to write counterfeit checks. Detectives discovered 20 different victims, all Santa Clarita Valley residents and businesses, who had one thing in common. They had written checks to Valencia Self Storage in Valencia.
When investigators searched Lind’s residence in Newhall last October, they found check printers, computers and “bags and boxes full of these shredded documents,” said sheriff’s Det. David Lingscheit.
Lind would allegedly take a bag of shreds, divide the contents into smaller boxes and then assemble the pieces, each about 2 inches long and a quarter-inch wide, on top of the box and piece together bank account and routing numbers.
He then used the information to print and write more than 30 counterfeit checks worth about $16,000, authorities said.
The charges against Lind include identity theft, check forgery and false impersonation. His girlfriend, Tammy Combe, 47, was charged with one count related to allegedly stealing bank information from a man who lived with them.
Lind, who had moved with Combe from Newhall to Simi Valley, was arrested in Ventura County on similar charges about six weeks ago, Lingscheit said. Lind is being held in the Ventura County Jail in lieu of $850,000 bail. Combe, who was scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday, was being held in the Los Angeles County jail in lieu of $50,000 bail.
Lingscheit’s advice: Use a shredder that cuts financial documents into indecipherable bits.
“Although people think they are shredding their documents to protect them from identity theft, there are people out there who take the time to reassemble them and the information winds up stolen,” he said.