Police arrested an 18-year-old Richmond Hill resident last week and charged him with using the Internet to steal more than $500,000 in credit and debit cards. It is alleged that Shiva Sharma set up a phony AOL Web site to send out e-mails that he used to get credit card numbers and other information from unsuspecting victims.
The young man has reportedly told police that he used the cards to purchase $10,000 worth of electronic equipment, racing car parts and computer systems. If this man is convicted, we hope the judge throws the book at him. Identify theft, as this type of crime is now called, has the potential to do tremendous damage to the country's economy.
Although millions of people now enjoy the convenience of shopping over the Internet, identity theft has sent a chill down the public spine. If you use a debit card, one creep with a computer can drain your bank account and you wont know what hit you until it's too late.
The mugger who steals your wallet only gets your cash. You can cancel any credit cards in minutes. But this new class of crooks can take your money and destroy your credit. Its possible to repair the damage, but this can take months.
We hope that DA Brown and other prosecutors across the country will come down hard on people engaged in identity theft. Punishment must include state prison time, restitution, major fines and a perhaps a lifetime ban on using the Internet.
©2003 Community News Group
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