Florida Ranks First in Nation for Reported Cases of Fraud

Average Social Security payments are lower for women than for men
Posted at 6:31 PM, Apr 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-07 14:25:23-04

SARASOTA Co., Fla. (WWSB) -- "Never," said Tuten, shaking her head. "I've heard of identity theft and things like that and I always thought nobody wants my identity."

Amy Tuten never thought she would be a victim of fraud. Until an unknown person opened a Verizon account under her name and ordered four phones.

She only became aware when she got a notification from FedEx that she had missed a delivery.

Not expecting a package, she went to the FedEx store. The attendant told her just one hour earlier a man attempted to pick up the package, even showing an employee a picture of Tuten's drivers' license, but he was still denied. Now the Sarasota Police Dept. is searching for the suspect.

"These people have my social security number, they have my drivers license,  they know what I look like, they have my address," said Tuten, "so it's very scary."

Tuten is one of more than 269,000 people in Florida, who reported some type of fraud in 2016 according to the Federal Trade Commission. Attorney Jerry Sanchy often handles those cases, and says the elderly most commonly fall victim.

"The elderly people are trusting and so they are vulnerable to predators who are looking to try to make money," said Sanchy.

After years of handling these cases, he says legal action is becoming increasingly difficult thanks to the internet.

"They're faceless crimes, " said Sanchy. "They occur electronically and there's usually no way to trace where they occurred."

For Tuten, whether the scammer is caught or not, just knowing her information is so easily accessible changes her point of view. 

"Either way I have to be diligent and I have to check my credit every couple of days," said Tuten. "I'm going to have to for the rest of my life."