Local News

Auditor: Many State Employees Could Have Fake IDs

Posted October 4, 2006

— A recent audit that found phony Social Security numbers being used by North Carolina Central University employees could be just part of a more widespread problem, authorities said Wednesday.

More than two dozen N.C. Central employees were the focus of the state audit. Auditors found seven were using Social Security cards with invalid numbers, while two others are accused of stealing the Social Security numbers of dead people.

Some of the employees told investigators they got their fake cards on the black market.

"They indicated they bought them. They were never issued; they bought them," said Chris Mears, of the State Auditor's Office.

Mears faulted the university for not cross-checking its files with a monthly state-issued list of fake Social Security numbers.

"We think N.C. Central should've caught it early on," he said.

University officials declined to comment on the audit's findings, aside from issuing a statement that blamed the problem on clerical errors.

"If there were one or two, it'd probably fall in the reasonable error margin. But there were significant errors," Mears said.

State and federal prosecutors are reviewing the employees' cases to determine what if any criminal charges should be filed.

Meanwhile, state auditors said they believe the problem extends beyond N.C. Central.

"We think this is a problem that could reach into all state government agencies and other universities," Mears said.

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