Do your friends love to take photos of their food? Thanks to the cameras in our smartphones, many foodies snap a picture of their every meal and upload it to social media like Facebook, Twitter and especially Instagram.
Whether you love it or hate it, the food pic trend is here to stay, but a recent news story might make you think twice before you Instagram that slice of pizza — if you’re breaking the law, that is.
Two identity thieves were recently busted by the IRS in South Florida and after one of the perpetrators uploaded a photo of his dinner. The whole scenario plays like a sequence straight out of a movie, but the involvement of an Instagram photo is something of a real-world cherry on to the top of this delicious crime sundae.
Two Identity Thieves in Love
The story begins with Nathaniel Troy Maye, aged 44 from Harlem, New York. He and his girlfriend Tiwanna Tenise Thomason (aged 39, from Miramar, Florida) both plead guilty last week in federal court. The two were charged with possession of unauthorized access devices and aggravated identity theft.
The IRS caught the pair after a period of surveillance and enlisting the help of a witness who was willing to go undercover. Apparently, the IRS caught wind of Maye’s activities when he was overheard discussing possession of upwards of 700,000 stolen identities. Maye was allegedly offering to sell the stolen identity information.
Needless to say, this brought Maye to the IRS’s attention, who immediately began an investigation.
Undercover Witnesses and Instagram Accounts
The IRS’ plan involved the use of a witness who was willing to go undercover, interact with Maye and Thomason, and gather the evidence that the IRS would need to arrest the pair.
On January 5th, the IRS’ undercover witness carried out the first of two meetings with the suspects. Everyone met up in a Fort Lauderdale restaurant, and it was at this point that the IRS’ witness confirmed most of the case’s important details.
Arrangements were made to purchase a flash drive that would contain 50,000 identities. These could be used to file fraudulent income tax returns.
On January 7th, the IRS’ witness met Maye and Thomason at Morton’s Steakhouse in South Florida. The well-known steakhouse set the stage for the trio’s final meeting, and would also bring about Maye and Thomason’s arrest in a pretty hilarious way.
The drive obtained by the witness didn’t have 50,000 stolen identities. It had 50.
What it did have, however, was information that allowed the IRS to link the drive to Troy Maye, specifically. The next thing the IRS did was track down a “TROYMAYE” account on Instagram.
It was there that they found a photo of a juicy steak with the caption “Morton’s.”
It was dated January 7th. As the Sophos Naked Security blog describes:
“IRS special agent Louis Babino found a profile for “TROYMAYE” on Instagram, along with a photo of a steak and macaroni and cheese meal containing the caption “Morton’s” that coincided with the second meeting between the witness and the couple.”
The two identity thieves were arrested at their apartment shortly after.
Keep Your Identity Safe
While this story is definitely not without its humorous aspects, it also underscores the need to keep our personal information safe and protected, so that your identity isn’t stolen by crooks like Maye and Thomason.
There are many ways to safeguard your privacy, but the best method is to educate yourself.
Did you know that having an unsecured WiFi network at your home actually puts you at risk for identity theft? When your wireless Internet signal isn’t secured, anyone with the right skills and equipment can see what you’re doing online, and this includes peeking at your personal information.
This is just one way that you can easily make sure you’re protecting your personal information.
What do you think? Are there any other measures you take to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen? Let us know in the comments!
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