On the morning of 20 July a man identifying himself as William Kramer boarded American Airlines flight 720 from Dallas/Fort Worth to New York. He was travelling first class. His one-way ticket cost $1145.60. I know this because he used data stolen from my credit card to pay for it. I had no idea that anything was wrong – my credit card was still in my wallet – until the following morning when I checked my recent transactions online. The American Airlines payment had not yet appeared but three other charges had: for $64 and $75, on consecutive days, from Angelo’s Pizza in New York, and for $663.44 from a firm called Ritz Camera. I cancelled the card and put in a claim against these fraudulent transactions.
When I called Ritz Camera, they told me that a camera had been ordered over the internet using my card details and sent by FedEx to my apartment house in New York. They also said that I had signed for it – even though I was in Colorado at the time. CCTV footage shows a man coming to my apartment house at around 10 a.m. on 22 July. The person on duty in the package room was a summer temp who didn’t know me. The man showed him a letter with my name on it and signed out the FedEx package. By coincidence a FedEx driver showed up with two more packages for me which the man also signed for. The next day another man showed up at my building with two of the three packages which he said he had found in the garbage. On each package (both were empty) was written the name ‘William Kramer’ and a telephone number which turned out to have been disconnected.
My experience isn’t especially unusual: Albert Gonzalez of Miami, Florida, a 28-year-old computer hacker, has been accused of stealing more than 170,000,000 credit card numbers (he and his accomplices are said to have sold them on in batches of 10,000). ‘William Kramer’ is small fry compared to Gonzalez, and it seems unlikely that he will be caught. My building filed a criminal trespass claim with the police, who went to Angelo’s Pizza and learned that the pizzas in question had been delivered to a nearby office building. Here the trail stopped: the thief of my identity has vanished without a trace.