“Father of Identity Theft” Sentenced to 17 Years in Federal Prison
Memphis, TN – After a week-long federal jury trial in September 2019, James Jackson, 58, of Memphis, Tennessee, was convicted of 13 counts of mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, access device fraud and theft of mail. Jackson has now been sentenced to 207 months in federal prison. D. Michael Dunavant, United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee announced the sentence today.
According to the information presented in court, in 2014-2015, Jackson devised a scheme to steal money from banks, financial companies and other individuals. Jackson obtained the personal identifying information of numerous individuals, most of whom were deceased, and used this information to take over the victims’ financial accounts (stock, credit card, and bank accounts). Jackson would search online obituaries and noteworthy articles to discover the identities of recently deceased individuals and then he would research the individuals to determine if they had any credit accounts or financial investment accounts. He would then impersonate the victims (both male and female) and use their information when contacting customer service representatives of banks, credit card companies and financial firms. Jackson would convince the businesses to mail new bank/credit cards to other addresses (vacant homes and hotels in Memphis area) and also caused the sale of over $340,000 of stock out of one victim’s investment account. Jackson recruited another individual to use the cards to withdraw funds from the victim accounts and to purchase gift cards.
On February 27, 2015, Jackson called the Cordova Post Office claiming to be a Charles Fulks and inquired about a credit card package that should have been delivered the day before to 10022 Cameron Ridge Trail. United States Postal Inspectors and members of the Tennessee Highway Patrol Identity Crimes Unit determined this was an imposter because the true Charles Fulks had died on February 2, 2015 and the 10022 Cameron Ridge Trail address was a vacant house at the time. Later, agents watched the package containing credit cards be delivered to the mailbox at 10022 Cameron Ridge Trail. Twelve hours later, agents observed Jackson emerge from a house at 10027 Cameron Ridge Trail and walk across the street to retrieve the credit card package from the mailbox and then went back into his residence. No one answered the door when agents announced their presence. Later, agents noticed smoke coming out of the home. Agents eventually located Jackson in the house pretending to be asleep. Numerous small fires had been set throughout the house in what appeared to be an attempt to destroy evidence. In the home, agents located items associated with identity theft, including documents and a guide entitled "How to Find Anyone and Anything" and computers. A search of Jackson’s computers revealed that he had been researching the deceased victims. This was done through use of numerous online obituary sites and nationwide news articles. In a subsequent search of Jackson’s mother’s house, agents found a box of Jackson’s business cards, wherein he claimed to be the "Father of Identity Theft."
In August 2018, Jackson was arrested again in Charlotte, North Carolina, while attempting to purchase a $43,000 Corvette using the name and personal information of a recently deceased individual.
Jackson had prior federal convictions for mail fraud, credit card fraud and bank fraud from the Southern District of New York and mail fraud, credit card fraud and social security fraud from the Western District of Tennessee. Jackson’s life and fraud schemes were highlighted in a 2004 book entitled "Your Evil Twin- Behind the Identity Theft Epidemic."
On September 30, 2020, U.S. District Court Judge John T. Fowlkes, Jr., sentenced Jackson to 207 months in federal prison followed by 5 years supervised release. Jackson was also ordered to pay over $300,000 in restitution. There is no parole in the federal system.
U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said, "Aggravated identity theft and schemes to defraud or compromise the personal and financial security of vulnerable and deceased victims will not be tolerated. This case demonstrates our commitment to protect the personal and financial information of citizens and institutions, and to hold offenders accountable for these disturbing crimes of dishonesty. This self-proclaimed ‘Father of Identity Theft’ will now have to change his name to ‘Father Time’, because he will be doing plenty of it in federal prison."
This case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Memphis Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Hall prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.