Dumb identity thief forgets Rule No. 1: Shred documents before you trash them

If ever there was a dumb identity thief, this guy is it.

Gerald K. Acholonu was charged by federal prosecutors with aggravated identity theft and other crimes that stemmed from him stealing credit cards from other people’s mailboxes and using them to obtain cash advances and buy things.

Here’s the thing: If he’d just shredded documents, he might have gotten away with it.

Instead, prosecutors were able to build their case on the materials they obtained by going through Acholonu’s trash outside his apartment in Braintree, Mass.

When Acholonu worked for a private company that did business with the U.S. Postal Service, he came under scrutiny. A postal worker say him leave a restroom carrying a tray of mail, and Acholonu was reported.

Acholonu had access to the mail, including credit cards that Discover had sent from Salt Lake City to the northeast. After the investigation began, Acholonu apparently got cold feet and quit his job. But the investigation continued.

Investigative reports stated that officers found opened mail in Acholonu’s trash, including Discover credit cards and credit card statements, telephone statements and receipts, and cellular telephone SIM cards – all associated with his victim. He had handwritten on the credit card statements the victims’ dates of birth, Social Security numbers and PIN numbers.

Maybe next time, people will listen when we warn you: Shred those documents before you dispose of them.

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