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Tandy22

Subletter stealing personal financial information

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Hi,

We have a tenant-at-will (no written terms) subletting a room in our apartment for the summer who has been stealing items, and more frighteningly, personal financial information from us and our neighbors.  We found a check from our neighbor made out to an unfamiliar name along with several identification cards that were not in our roommate's name (including one for the payee on the check).  We checked with our neighbor, who confirmed that she did not write the check and had noticed a checkbook missing from her apartment along with some tax documents. She'd also been notified by her bank of fraudulent activity.  This caused us to look closely at our accounts and our belongings and we've found fraudulent charges on both our credit and debit cards.  In addition we are missing checkbooks from two accounts, 2 years of tax returns, documents containing our social security numbers, some cash, nice liquors, and some small electronics.

When we spoke with the police, they said they can't do anything with the information we have unless he tries to actually pass a check.  The extra thing complicating this is that because he is our tenant, we have no way of providing proof of his theft to the police because we aren't allowed to enter his room and the incriminating items that we found have been moved back to his room.  He is going to move out in a couple of weeks and needless to say we are freaking out.  The only thing we can prove is that the email address linked to the fraudulent subscription charge is his personal email.The card used is currently missing and we believe it to be in his possession.  Is there anything we can legally do to stop this kid from walking out of our lives (and our neighbor's life) with all of our personal financial information?!?

Any help would be greatly appreciated! 

Thanks...

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Is this guy actually staying in your apartment with you? I'm not quite sure of the law in your state,but if it is your apartment and you stay there as well, you should be able to set up some type of video survellance.People do have this in thier homes for security anyway.Next thing would be to contact all lenders of the cards you are missing and have them cancelled or have them call you the moment they are being used cause surely the store should have cameras. The checkbooks should of been cancelled if the bank notified the owner of FRAUDULENT ACTIVITY. They [the bank] already know something isn't right when they contacted the owner.<br />You might want to contact a lawyer and see if he can talk with the bank manager to see why they believe it is some wrongful activity going on and get copies of the checks used. And maybe a private investigator if needed to follow this guy and go behind him to copy the transactions from the store owners.

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The fraud alerts occurred on bank cards, which were stopped and replaced.  We had one charge on a credit card go through (the one linked to his email address), but again the credit card company is saying they won't pursue him.  Also, according to the credit card companies, when they flag a charge and it doesn't actually get processed, they can't do anything about it. He hasn't actually tried to use any of the checks, so even though the checkbooks are in his possession unlawfully, the police say they can't take action against him until he does try to use them. 

And yes, the other problem is that he still is in the apartment with us! We've thought about setting up video surveillance, but we don't think we'd catch him taking anything because he already has everything he'd need (checkbooks, tax info, SS#, etc).

This is all very frustrating.  I know he has all of this stuff, but am being told that there is nothing that can be done! 

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Tandy22,

 

Thank you for the post.  You need to start a lawsuit in order to be afforded the ability to obtain information from him against his will.  If you can connect a fraudulent subscription charge to his personal email, isn't it enough for them to at least investigate the issue?

 

-The FindLaw.Com Team

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Is there anything we can legally do to stop this kid from walking out of our lives (and our neighbor's life) with all of our personal financial information?

 

I'm not quite sure I understand the question.  You said you've reported what happened to the police and they declined to get involved.  I suppose you could file a lawsuit and seek a preliminary injunction that would require this person to turn over any of your property in his possession.  Or you could simply go get what's your.  The alternative would seem to be some serious credit monitoring, changing banks accounts, etc.

 

By the way, the places in your follow up post where you wrote "can't" or "cannot" should be replaced with "don't want to."  The credit card company and the police most certainly CAN do those things.  They just don't want to.  A very good reason, in my opinion, to transfer your business to a different credit card company.

 

Also, if the one purchase you mentioned was done on the Internet, you might consider contacting the FBI's cybercrime unit.

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Thank you for your replies. 

I think we've felt restricted because we don't know what we CAN do legally and what we CAN'T do legally.  This is largely because we are prohibited as landlords from entering his room without notice.  Even though our initial discovery was lawful, just our word that these things were in his room didn't seem to be enough for the police to come physically investigate and we couldn't enter the room to try to collect something to show them.  Heck, even if we removed it all and brought it to them, we couldn't prove it had ever been in his possession, right?  And we didn't want to just take our stuff back because we thought it would tip him off and he'd destroy the evidence.

 

It sounds like we need to file a lawsuit to try to force some action.  We initially tried to file a police report, and this is where we ran into resistance.  It has been very frustrating to be told by both the police and credit card companies that they couldn't do anything, and it's nice to know that we can push back on that.  Is the first step to filing a lawsuit to file a police report or to contact a lawyer?  Would the lawsuit compel the police and credit card companies to take the situation more seriously?  I'm definitely a novice here; I'm fortunate to have been able to avoid litigation up to this point in my life so far.

 

Regarding the FBI - this is something we also considered.  We recorded some of the names on the first IDs we found and thought perhaps they could do something with those?

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I think we've felt restricted because we don't know what we CAN do legally and what we CAN'T do legally.  This is largely because we are prohibited as landlords from entering his room without notice.

 

While I understand how you feel, if your property is in his room, I'm not sure I would let the niceties of landlord-tenant law stand in the way of retrieving it.

 

 

 

Even though our initial discovery was lawful, just our word that these things were in his room didn't seem to be enough for the police to come physically investigate and we couldn't enter the room to try to collect something to show them.  Heck, even if we removed it all and brought it to them, we couldn't prove it had ever been in his possession, right?

 

That's up to whomever you're trying to prove it to.  If you say the light was green and he says the light was red, and if there is no other evidence of the color of the light, then that arguably wouldn't be enough to prove anything even under the "more likely than not" standard applicable in most civil matters (unless the trier of fact finds that one or ther other of you isn't credible).

 

 

 

It has been very frustrating to be told by both the police and credit card companies that they couldn't do anything, and it's nice to know that we can push back on that.  Is the first step to filing a lawsuit to file a police report or to contact a lawyer?

 

In a perfect world, you'd want to have a police report first, but if the cops won't take one, then you have but one choice.  As far as "pushing back," you obviously can try again to get the cops to do what you're asking, but there's no way to force either of them to do anything.

 

 

 

Would the lawsuit compel the police and credit card companies to take the situation more seriously?

 

Nope.

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Try talking to a lawyer that deals with identity theft. The survellance won't hurt either.Try contacting those credit card companies and see if they are able to send you copies of all transactions on your cards and take them to your attorney.If you can obtain a copy of the transaction linked to his e-mail,that would be good as well.It actually shows him using your cards(paper trail).

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There's the rub... my partner is more concerned about our things, whereas I'm more concerned about protecting our accounts and identity information after the roommate has moved out.  Even if we go in and grab our stuff, he may still have our financial info somewhere that we don't know about.  But there doesn't seem to be anything we can do about that bit.

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