Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Identity theft. What is it?

What exactly is identity theft? Among the three charges brought upon the defendants in the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud case, this is the charge that carries the harshest penalty, from what I understand the charge carries a lengthy minimum mandatory sentence. At the very least we owe it to ourselves to fully understand what the charge means, let's take a look and see what we find. Let's begin by checking the definition of Identity Theft as it appears in Wikipedia:
Identity theft is a term used that is to refer to fraud that involves someone pretending to be someone else in order to steal money or get other benefits.
That's fairly straightforward isn't it? Pretending to be someone else in order to steal money or get other benefits. I wonder, is that how Detective Baluja defines Identity Theft? (We'll wait till some new documents are available tomorrow before we address that question.) This isn't what we talked about yesterday when we talked about the guy who claimed that "homeboy stole my credit card and bought some stuff", this involves actually stealing someones identity and posing as that person through fraudulent documents (IE fake drivers license, fake social security card, etc) to achieve some sort of monetary gain. By now we're familiar enough with the Bernardo Barrera Mortgage Fraud case to know that there was (according to the state) an impostor who stole Bernardo Barrera's identity and posed as Mr. Barrera at the closing for the purchase of the Oak Avenue home who then with his co conspirators subsequently defrauded Citi Mortgage out of over $480,000.

With that said, I have one important question for Detective Jorge Baluja and Assistant State Attorney Bill Kostrzewski, WHERE'S THE MAN WHO POSED AS BERNARDO BARRERA AT THE CLOSING FOR THE OAK AVENUE HOME PURCHASE? Let's take a look at the players involved to date:

  1. John Romney - The man who paid $185,000 for the home located at 3390 Oak Avenue who six days later resold it for $600,000 to a man who according to the state had stolen Bernardo Barrera's identity. According to the Miami Herald article, Mr. Romney made $369,896.88 from this transaction.
  2. Michael Martinez - The man who lent the "straw buyer" or the man who impersonated Bernardo Barrera (supposedly) at the closing the down payment to close on the fraudulent sale and mortgage. According to the Miami Herald article, Mr. Martinez made $135,000 from the transaction.
  3. Delaila Estefano - The attorney whose office closed the transaction involving the Oak Avenue purchase and mortgage. Neither the Miami Herald article or the information the state filed in the criminal case alleges that the attorney made any money off of the transaction. Our examination of the closing documents in the states case file shows that the attorney pocketed $1,270 in fees for the closing.
OK, we have the seller, the guy who lent the down payment and the attorney that closed the transaction, so where's the guy who actually posed as Bernardo Barrera at the closing that stole his identity? It looks to me that the state arrested everyone that could possibly identify the impostor, so WHERE'S THE DAMN IMPOSTOR? Why hasn't the man who is actually guilty of identity theft been arrested?

Does this make any sense to anyone? As far as I can see, it makes as much sense as anything else in this story has. I suspect the answer to this riddle is going to come in the tomorrow, perhaps the Detective and the Assistant State Attorney that put this case together don't know what Identity Theft is. Can you imagine that?

Let's take a quick look at our instruments to see where we're at...


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