Let’s say you want to “acquire” a car, or two, but you have weak credit.
How do you persuade a car dealer or a bank to finance the transactions?
The solution, according to Anthony A. Scarpino Jr., is creating a synthetic identity.
You establish credit by opening bank accounts under your real name and actual date of birth but use the Social Security number of a 10-year-old. Banks and credit agencies would have no record of that number being used and therefore no reason to realize that it belongs to a child.
Alas, Scarpino is not some academic or industry expert. He is aware of this method of identity theft because he is the Westchester County District Attorney.
On Sept. 8, the head of his identity theft unit, Assistant District Attorney Stefanie DeNise, brought charges against Andre Mendez, 26, of Nanuet.
Having established credit, the prosecutor said in a news release, Mendez allegedly used the synthetic identity on Feb. 1 to lease and finance a 2017 Toyota Camry SE from Westchester Toyota in Yonkers.
The next day and three miles away on Central Park Avenue, he leased and financed a 2017 Honda Accord Sport from White Plains Honda.
Then he allegedly made no payments on the cars, enabling him to ride around for free in two brand new cars.
But he was not off the radar. His driver’s license had been revoked, according to the prosecutor, his insurance had lapsed and he had been caught twice for allegedly driving while intoxicated.
On Friday Mendez was scheduled for an appearance on two of the charges in Greenburgh Town Court. He arrived in the gray Toyota that the dealership was trying to repossess.
After the court proceeding, he was charged with one count of criminal possession of stolen property. He pleaded not guilty. Bail was set at $50,000.
Investigators found the Honda at an auto body shop in the Bronx.
More charges, according to the district attorney, are pending.