ILNews

Federal identity theft statute includes use of deceased's identity

Back to TopE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A person can be convicted of aggravated identity theft under 18 U.S.C. Section 1028A for using the identity of a person who is dead or alive, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in an issue of first impression.

Anna LaFaive, who stole her dead sister’s identity to open checking accounts using counterfeit checks and withdrew nearly $65,000, argued that Section 1028A can only criminalize the use of a living person’s identity.

Section 1028A only uses the term “another person,” and doesn’t define “person.” In United States of America v. Anna LaFaive, also known as Phyllis Click, No. 09-2344, the judges rejected LaFaive’s argument that because Congress didn’t specify deceased people under the statute, that “another person” only refers to living people. But Congress didn’t use the word “living” either, and citing an 8th Circuit Court of Appeals case, the 7th Circuit judges agreed that the common usage of “person” includes both living and dead individuals.

They also concluded the structure of the statute supported their decision. Both subsections (a)(1) and (a)(2) prohibit the use of another person’s identification. Subsection (2) deals with identity theft and terrorism.

“If ‘another person’ in subsection (a)(2) was limited to living persons, the statute would prohibit the use of a deceased person’s social security card but not the oral use of that same deceased person’s social security number,” wrote Judge Michael Kanne. “…we agree with the other circuits that have concluded that limiting ‘person’ in subsection (a)(2) to a living person works an ‘illogical,’ ‘absurd,’ and ‘nonsensical’ result.”

Judge Kanne also noted the 7th Circuit is not the only one to decide after the ruling in Flores-Figueroa v. United States, 129 S.Ct. 1886 (2009), that Section 1028A covers the use of the identity of those living and dead.

The Circuit judges also upheld LaFaive’s sentence, finding the District Court didn’t plainly err in calculating or imposing her sentence. The District Court made it abundantly clear that it was departing upward from the 24- to 30-month range for the bank fraud counts based almost entirely on the fact that LaFaive’s criminal history score underrepresented the seriousness of her criminal background. In addition, the District Court was required to impose the mandatory 24 consecutive months on the aggravated identity theft counts, wrote the judge.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Is it possible to amend an order for child support due to false paternity?

  2. He did not have an "unlicensed handgun" in his pocket. Firearms are not licensed in Indiana. He apparently possessed a handgun without a license to carry, but it's not the handgun that is licensed (or registered).

  3. Once again, Indiana's legislature proves how friendly it is to monopolies. This latest bill by Hershman demonstrates the lengths Indiana's representatives are willing to go to put big business's (especially utilities') interests above those of everyday working people. Maassal argues that if the technology (solar) is so good, it will be able to compete on its own. Too bad he doesn't feel the same way about the industries he represents. Instead, he wants to cut the small credit consumers get for using solar in order to "add a 'level of certainty'" to his industry. I haven't heard of or seen such a blatant money-grab by an industry since the days when our federal, state, and local governments were run by the railroad. Senator Hershman's constituents should remember this bill the next time he runs for office, and they should penalize him accordingly.

  4. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  5. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

ADVERTISEMENT