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Convict: Stealing your identity was easy fun

Jason Michael Carpenter


CNN Access
Crime, Law and Justice
Identity theft

HOUSTON, Texas (CNN) -- Jason Michael Carpenter, a convicted identity thief who is serving 17-and-a-half years in prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and fraud in connection with access devices, says stealing identities was fun and "incredibly easy."

He spoke about identity theft tactics with "CNN Presents" from the Federal Detention Center in Houston as part of an hour-long documentary, "How to Rob a Bank." That airs at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET Saturday.

CARPENTER: It was fun, not in the sense that it was fun to steal the money, but it was fun to get away with something like that. Being so young as I was and to think that I could be doing something like that. ... I didn't look at it like a big deal. I just looked at it as something to get away with. ...

CNN: ... Where did you figure out how it all works -- in chat rooms?

CARPENTER: Pretty much in chat rooms and just reading it. Since I've ... always been around computers, (the) computer comes naturally to me. ... You'd be surprised the amount of credit card information that is actually circulated around the Internet. And once you get a hold of it, you just figure out how can you use it, if you want to. ...

CNN: Describe to us what "phishing" is.

CARPENTER: Phishing is ... one big source of credit card information. Phishing would be when you are sending out e-mails or messages to people, telling them that for some reason or another, and portraying yourself as a financial institution or an official working for a company or an Internet service, (and telling them that) they need to resubmit their credit card information to you. And instead of having it done on the official Web site, it would be done on another Web site that you set up and information would be sent to you.

CNN: So you just ask for it?


CNN: And people send it?

CARPENTER: Seven out of 10 times people will send it.

CNN: You're kidding?

CARPENTER: No. It's extremely easy. ... If I was really driven, it would take me two or three hours, and I would have your information -- Social Security number, date of birth, driver's license number, bank account numbers.

CNN: Is that because you're a genius or because it's just so easy?

CARPENTER: It's because it's so easy. It's ... incredibly easy. ...

CNN: Did you think people would be victimized by this or just the banks.

CARPENTER: What I thought at the time was that most of the credit card companies earmark so much money every year for fraud and ... I thought the person would, at most, have to pay $50 or $100. And then the charges would be ... removed from the credit cards, and the credit card company would absorb the loss. But they made so much money that anyway, I didn't mind. I didn't see it as such a big deal.

CNN: So ripping off the credit card companies or the bank, in no way equates to ripping off a person?

CARPENTER: I don't see those things as being equal. Ripping off a financial institution or a bank or a large business, it's not the same as if you're taking the money directly from somebody's pocket or their bank account. ...

CNN: Did it surprise you that each step of the way you were getting away with more and more and more?

CARPENTER: It was very surprising how easy it was. That was the reason that I kept doing it -- just because it was so easy to get away with something like that. That's what really kept me doing it.

CNN: Was it like an addiction?

CARPENTER: Almost, almost because I would just do more and more and more just to see if I could get away with it. ...

CNN: Are the robbers winning this one in the cops-and-robbers game?

CARPENTER: They are because there's a lot of things ... that go on that they're never going to find out about. And when they do find out about them, it'll be a long time. And the amount of people that are doing these crimes ... it's not something that they have enough manpower and enough knowledge ... to catch them all.

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