Girl’s ID stolen from online photo

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A scammer has stolen the identity of a local woman to rip off people online.
In February Nelson Weekly reported that Gemma Sampson was refused entry to some Nelson bars and nightclubs because they didn’t believe the photo on her driver’s licence was her.
That story, featuring a photo of Gemma holding her licence was published online at the Nelson Weekly website and was from there stolen by the scammer.
Two weeks ago Gemma received a call from the Blenheim police station to say there had been a dodgy deal which had involved her licence details being used. Gemma learnt that a Blenheim resident had been demanded to see identification from someone selling a cell phone before putting money in their account. The scammer then sent a picture of Gemma’s drivers licence and the money was transferred.
Once it became clear that the seller had no intention of sending the phone after receiving the money, the person took their concerns to the police who soon learnt there was more to the story.
Constable Ian Mills, of Blenheim, says the thief in question was asked to produce ID in order to complete the transaction and went looking for a fake, stumbling across a photo of Gemma’s licence on the internet.
“In this case the person doing the purchasing wanted to see some ID due to bad experiences when buying online in the past. Put under pressure to produce ID the seller used Gemma’s drivers licence.”
It  wasn’t just a one off occasion that Gemma’s ID was used illegally either, with several unsuccessful attempts made by different people to obtain credit from telecommunications companies also coming to light, including one case originating from Upper Hutt, near Wellington.
Gemma says it has only just dawned on her how much damage could have been done under her name and that it is lucky that the scammers were caught before they managed to do anything major.
“I wasn’t that bothered until I talked to the police. Then it kicked in that they could have done so much worse than they did.”
While not common, this isn’t the first time Ian has dealt with identity theft and he says although the attempts to use Gemma’s identity were picked up before any real damage was done, there’s a lesson to be had in what is put onto the internet.
“Do be careful in what you put out into the world wide web. It can very hard to get back.”
Gemma has since cancelled the drivers licence and is yet to hear of the official outcome of the incidents. She says it’s a clear warning to other people not to put a photo of their licence online.