March 26, 2011, 9:10 PM — An identity thief who used a people search website to confirm stolen Social Security numbers has been sentenced to 16 years and seven months in prison, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.
Todd Yurgin, 41, of Newark, Delaware, was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware for his role in a "massive" ID theft scheme, the DOJ said in a news release. The scheme resulted in a loss of nearly $1 million to credit card-issuing financial institutions, the DOJ said.
Yurgin's sentence is the longest in Delaware history for fraud and ID theft, the DOJ said. Yurgin's partner in the scheme, Joseph Aughenbaugh, was sentenced to 12 years and one month in prison in November.
Yurgin pleaded guilty to six charges, including mail fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering, in August. He later tried to withdraw the plea, but Judge Gregory Sleet denied the request.
Yurgin and Aughenbaugh stole the mail of victims, then confirmed Social Security numbers through background search site USinfosearch.com and possibly other people search sites, said Robert Kravetz, assistant U.S. attorney in the office of Charles Oberly III, U.S. attorney for the District of Delaware.
USinfosearch.com said it maintains "strict security measures."
"Our online tools are clearly designed to prevent fraud and reduce risk," said Marc Martin, a spokesman for the company, via e-mail. "Moreover, we do not provide information on juveniles and have no clients by the names listed."
Yurgin and Aughenbaugh stole the identities of 93 people, at least 44 of them children, the DOJ said. After confirming the victims' Social Security numbers, the two men applied for credit cards using the valid Social Security numbers and fictitious names, the agency said.
The two men targeted Social Security numbers issued to children because the victims "weren't likely to check their credit," Kravetz said.
Yurgin used the identity information to open at least 343 credit cards and 54 bank accounts from more than 40 financial institutions, and he formed two shell companies operating out of his residence to make fraudulent purchases for services. The two men did not pay the credit card companies for the fraudulent transactions, causing several financial institutions to incur significant losses, the DOJ said.
Yurgin's Delaware conviction was his third federal fraud conviction. During sentencing, Sleet called Yurgin a "professional con artist and criminal." The full extent of the scheme may never be uncovered, Sleet said.
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.