Man faces identity theft counts

College worker accused of taking students' data

September 18, 2004|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

A clerk in the registration office of the Community College of Baltimore County's Catonsville campus has been charged in the identity thefts of students at the school, county police said yesterday.

Joel M. Chambers, 19, of the first block of McGrady Square in Catonsville was charged Thursday with six counts of personal identity theft and four counts of possessing credit card numbers that did not belong to him. He was being held last night at the Baltimore County jail in lieu of $25,000 bail, authorities said.

According to charging documents, Chambers used his position to copy the personal information, such as credit card numbers, Social Security numbers and class schedules, of at least a half-dozen students.

Chambers gave the information to a man he said he'd met while in jail in Prince George's County, the charging documents allege. That man, who has not been charged but is being investigated by the Prince George's County police, used the information to call the students and persuade them that he was an official at the community college, police said.

He'd then ask for one more important piece of information: the three-digit code from the back of their credit cards, police said. With that code and the other information, the man was able to use the students' identities to wire money to acquaintances, police said.

When police searched Chambers' home Thursday, they found registration documents for six students who had reported to campus public safety that their credit cards had been used without their permission, court documents show. Police also found registration forms for 11 other students, according to the court records.

Chambers was hired this summer by the school, but about two weeks into his employment, school public safety officials suspected something was amiss, said Hope H. Davis, a spokeswoman for the college.

Chambers has been fired, she said.

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