Special task force cracks down on identity fraud

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A special strike force has arrested 15 people in an attempt to crack down on identity fraud in Utah.

It's the work of the SECURE Strike Force. Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff created the task force last year to combat what he calls a growing problem: identity theft, used for illegal activity like drug and weapons trafficking.

Rep. Brad Dee, R-Ogden, said, "We understand whose responsibility this is. We decided we are not going to stand still in Utah. We are going to take that responsibility and do something about this."

What is... the SECURE Strike Force?
The SECURE Strike Force was launched last June by Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff to stop identity theft, human trafficking, illegal drugs and violent crimes by undocumented aliens. The Utah Legislature appropriated funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to set up the strike force. -Office of the Utah Attorney General

Thursday night, state and federal agents, along with West Valley police, arrested eight people on charges of forgery, robbery and illegal entry into the U.S. Agents also seized forged Social Security and state identification cards. They've arrested seven others in the past two months.

Realizing the link between forged documents and other crimes, the attorney general and the Legislature formed the SECURE Strike Force. Its job is to take down the document mills where criminals create false documents.

Authorities call it a major problem because the accused criminals stole the identities of many Utah residents -- including children.

Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, asked, "Who is going to check that -- for years? That could go on until they're in their late teens until anyone finds out."

Document mills are used to create fraudulent driver licenses, Social Security cards, Resident Alien identification cards and other fraudulent documents used by criminals.

Along with evidence of forged documents, agents found signs of illegal drug and firearms trafficking.

Many of those arrested are illegal immigrants with violent pasts.

Shurtleff said, "Those are the aliens that are here for one purpose, and that is to break Utah law. That is to deal drugs and to run drugs, to kidnap and murder."

Shurtleff calls these arrests a major blow against identity theft and forgery -- but it remains a problem, so the Strike Force will continue its work.

E-mail: jboal@ksl.com /br>


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