MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Robert Chavez says his identity theft nightmare began back in April after he got a call from Lowe’s Home Improvement about opening an account there.
Trouble was, Chavez hadn’t opened an account there. The father of four says he soon learned that his identity had been stolen and that thieves were busy using his name to ring up more than $10,000 in charges in just four days at stores across South Florida.
“It’s just kind of a nightmare that all my information is out there,” Chavez told CBS4’s Carey Codd.
On Wednesday night, El Portal Police released video of the man suspected of stealing Chavez’s identity. Chavez says it’s strange to watch video of a man pretending to be him going on shopping sprees.
Click here to watch Carey Codd’s report.
“To see the guy, I wish it was me going out shopping buying all these clothes and laptops and everything else,” he said.
Jokes aside, Chavez says this has been a 3-month odyssey of dealing with a stolen identity and charges made in his name up the East Coast.
“I don’t know if it’s a ring or what but it’s gone from Miami all the way to Delaware,” Chavez said. “There’s a charge for a university in Pennsylvania.”
Police say they have surveillance video of the thief shopping at Kohl’s in Homestead, a T-Mobile store in Homestead and other stores like Best Buy and Target. Investigators say the thief shopped at stores where he could get credit right at the counter.
“It’s infuriating to know that it’s so easy for anybody to walk into a store and not really be questioned if the information is right,” Chavez said. “And to be extended — and the stores are so willing to extend you credit so easily.”
Detective David Adlet says he has lots of evidence in the case including a copy of the victim’s driver’s license with the suspect’s picture on it but the detective says he’s missing a crucial clue — the identity thief’s name. He hopes someone in the community can provide it.
“Give me a name to put with this face so I can pick him up and charge him and make him pay for what he’s done,” Adlet said.
Chavez says he doesn’t know how thieves got his identity but he says they even managed to get access to his savings account. He wants to see the thief caught and for Chavez’s good name to be restored.
“For me, it’s important just for a sense of peace,” Chavez said. “Knowing they know everything about me, including where I live.”
If you have information that can help El Portal Police solve this case, call Crimestoppers in Miami-Dade at (305) 471 TIPS.
Investigators say it is difficult to protect yourself completely from identity theft because we share our information in so many ways. However, they suggest you keep a close eye on credit card and bank statements and also check your credit score routinely.