DOUGLASVILLE | Teen accused of using White House official's SSN

6:27 AM, Jan 6, 2012   |    comments
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James Townsend, 17, is accused of identity fraud.
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  • DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. -- A Douglas County teenager was arrested for identity fraud for using a senior White House official's social security number.

    Douglas County Sheriff's Office investigators said they arrested 17-year-old James Townsend of Douglasville after being contacted by the United States Secret Service.

    Chief Deputy Stan Copeland said Townsend used the identity to apply for a credit card online.

    "They (U.S. Secret Service) looked into it initially to make sure that it wasn't something very serious," Copeland said. "They concluded it was more on a local level and contacted our investigation unit."

    According to a warrant, the victim is "a senior level executive branch official under the protection of the Unites States Secret Service."

    Nicole Jones, an attorney and spokesperson for Townsend's family, said she couldn't comment on specifics of the case because she doesn't know the victim's identity.

    "We're not going to admit that he actually did it, but if it is true, it was just someone Googling on the internet and he found something," Jones said.

    Chief Deputy Copeland said Townsend somehow found Social Security numbers while on the Internet and tried using them to fill out applications for a Discover Card. One of the number was accepted.

    "Our understanding is when Equifax got it, it was flagged for whatever reason, and that's when the Secret Service was notified," Copeland said.

    Chief Deputy Copeland added that there is no indication Townsend knew whose Social Security number he used.

    "It's not like he was a terrorist or he went out to do something bad to anyone," Jones said. "We just want to say it was a child on the Internet to get information."

    The United States Secret Service website says this:

    By law, the Secret Service is authorized to protect:

    - The president, the vice president, the president-elect and vice president-elect
    - The immediate families of the above individuals
    - Former presidents, their spouses, except when the spouse re-marries
    - Children of former presidents until age 16
    - Visiting heads of foreign states or governments and their spouses traveling with them, other distinguished foreign visitors to the United States, and official representatives of the United States performing special missions abroad
    - Major presidential and vice presidential candidates, and their spouses within 120 days of a general presidential election
    - Other individuals as designated per Executive Order of the President and
    - National Special Security Events, when designated as such by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security

    The Secret Service passed the case on to Douglas County after they realized it wasn't terrorism-related. But you have to believe they're wondering about this question: How did a senior White House official's Social Security number become accessible on the Internet?

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