Charge: Worker used DMV computers for ID theft
Posted October 17, 2011 3:30 p.m. EDT
Updated October 17, 2011 8:09 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — A former clerk at the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles is facing 18 charges, including five counts of identity theft, in a state probe that has spanned more than a year.
The State Bureau of Investigation began looking at Kimberly Nicole Torres, 36, of 102 Indian Trail in Wendell, in January 2010 after copies of driver's licenses and Social Security cards were found in her desk.
She was fired a month later, and Steve Abbott, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said she did not steal any personal information from the state.
Torres was arrested Friday and was in the Wake County jail under a $275,000 bond Monday evening. Search warrants allege that she used a DMV computer to apply for payday loans in other people's names.
Once the loans were deposited into bank accounts, she told investigators, she would withdraw the money, take a cut and close the account.
If convicted on the identity theft charge, as well as several charges of obtaining property by false pretense and accessing government computers to defraud and forgery, she could face up to 27 years in prison.
"She didn't have access to anything work-wise, anything DMV – such as personal records, drivers' license. She had no access to that," Abbott said.
It's unclear where Torres might have gotten the Social Security cards and driver's licenses.
According to court records, Torres has a lengthy criminal history, including several convictions prior to being hired by the state for assault with a deadly weapon and breaking and entering.
DMV employees are required to have a background check, Abbot said, but because Torres was hired by the DOT, a check never happened.
"We do not do background checks. It's not just DOT, it is all state agencies," Abbott said. "There is no background check required unless it's a job that would require access to private information, access to money or other issues like that."