MANHEIM TOWNSHIP, LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. -- Police in Lancaster County are investigating a unique case of identify theft which spans several states and thousands of dollars.
Authorities say a woman went into a PennDOT licensing center, pretended to be someone else, and received a duplicate copy of the victim’s license!
Manheim Township Police say 27-year-old Emily Ewan is on the run from authorities.
For them, it’s a pretty rare case of identity theft because of two things: the victim does not know the suspect at all and because of how easy it was for the suspect to receive a copy of the victim's license.
Police say it all started at a Penndot Licensing Center just outside Philadelphia.
"The suspect went into PennDOT, claiming to be her, claiming that she lost her license and she was requesting a duplicate license, in the victim’s name, using the suspect’s photograph," explained Sergeant Michael Piacentino with Manheim Township Police.
“Do these two people even look alike?” asked FOX43.
“Similar enough," responded Piacentino.
Similar in appearance, yes, but Sergeant Michael Piacentino says they are complete strangers.
"The fact that the suspect and the victim do not know each other, that’s on the rarer side," he explained.
What makes it even more unique?
"It’s one thing to have a fraudulent driver's license or I card, made at home, essentially a fake id, but it’s different to have one that has been issued by the state with fraudulent information on it," explained Piacentino.
Using that ID, detectives say Ewan opened up credit cards; they followed the paper trail.
“You get the victim to provide all of the accounts that have been opened and activity," said Piacentino.
They say Ewan swiped in several states including Montana, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
"A U-Haul truck was rented in New Jersey by the suspect, using the victim’s information; the truck has gone missing," said Piacentino.
The victim told police she learned one thing through this debacle.
“She wants to see this person get caught, and she wants to see others not fall victims to this," explained Piacentino for the victim. "The advice here would be to routinely check your credit reading, your credit score, and your credit report to see if accounts are opening.”
Police say the suspect's copy of the license is flagged, so if she gets pulled over, they will know.
As for how this whole thing happened, FOX43 reached out to PennDOT.
FOX43's Grace Griffaton asked a series of questions; we put the answers we received from a PennDOT spokeswoman in bold.
- What is the process of getting a new license when one is lost / what security measures are currently in place? Customers may apply for a duplicate license via the PennDOT Driver and Vehicle Services website, through the mail, at an online messenger, or by visiting one of our driver license centers. In each case, an individual must supply information specific to that individual. When duplicate products are sent through the mail, products are sent to the individual’s address on file. When products are issued over-the-counter at a Driver License Center, the photograph and signature on file are compared to the customer receiving the product and the signature the customer provides at the time of the duplicate transaction.
- How was this woman able to get a drivers license in the victim's name?
- Do pictures of people pop up in a system when someone comes in requesting a new license? For a customer receiving a duplicate product over the counter, the image and signature on file in the system is used to produce the product.
- Is PennDOT looking into this?
- Is there anything you might change now knowing this happened to make the process more secure?
She also said she cannot legally comment on specifics as it is an active, ongoing police investigation.
She also referred us to their website which has information on replacing a driver's license.