Donald Stoner, 37, was arrested by federal officers for using court records to commit identity theft. Stoner gathered personally identifying information—names, Social Security numbers and driver’s license numbers–from more than 100 DUI defendants and used it to set up fraudulent bank accounts and steal more than $27,000 in payday loans.
Stoner specifically targeted those who paid their court-ordered fines all at once instead of in installments, and who hired private attorneys instead of using the services of public defenders. By doing so, he narrowed the pool to victims he thought were more likely to have good credit.
Since Stoner’s arrest, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Harrisburg, PA. asked the York County Clerk of Courts, Don O’Shell, to redact personally identifying information from public documents.
O’Shell replied saying there is no legal requirement that the information be redacted, and that it would be impossible to do manually redact millions of records from so many departments and locations.
Software is available to automatically redact the information, but would cost roughly $60,500 in the first year, O’Shell said.
Besides the expense of protecting the defendants’ information, many law enforcement and court workers consider protecting defendants’ from identity theft a low priority.
“This should be one more reminder to the citizens out there not to run afoul of the law,” O’Shell said. “It’s one more reason not to drink and drive.”