A Chicago woman has been charged with identity theft after stealing the purse of a federal judge. Michelle Cook, 52, was arrested at a downtown Target after making illicit purchases using …
A Chicago woman has been charged with identity theft after stealing the purse of a federal judge. Michelle Cook, 52, was arrested at a downtown Target after making illicit purchases using the stolen credit cards of Judge Joan Lefkow.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Judge Lefkow was eating at an Italian restaurant on January 13 when she noticed her purse missing. Within a few minutes, Lefkow was notified that over $1,000 was spent using her credit cards at a local Target.
Cook was identified by Target employees as the customer who’d used the stolen credit cards. She was arrested on Friday, January 19 when she entered the same Target. Chicago police happened to be present at the store following up on leads.
“It must be her favorite store,” said Lefkow.
Identity theft is a common and growing problem in the United States. In 2016 alone, one out of every 16 Americans were the victim of identity theft.
What’s more, according to CNN, the social security numbers of American infants have even been found on the dark web marketplace. Because an infant has a clean credit history, cybercriminals are able to use their information to apply for credit cards, receive government benefits, and even apply for mortgage loans.
The dark web can only be accessed using a type of software called Tor and criminal behavior has been known to take place in its marketplace. In fact, CNN reports, cybercriminals may even take online classes enabling them to steal personal information such as credit card numbers, medical history, and social security numbers.
“These things happen to people all the time,” said Lefkow to the Chicago Tribune. “I just happen to be fortunate.” Lefkow expressed her gratitude to the detectives who worked on the case.
Cook was charged with aggravated identity theft and additional felonies. The latter charges were the result of police finding three other stolen credit cards from a Michigan woman in Cook’s possession. The same woman’s driver’s license was also found with Cook’s photo fixed to it.
Cook is currently being held on $10,000 bond. A trial date has yet to be set.