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Published September 29, 2010, 02:28 PM

Number of Victims in Local ID Theft Case Rises to 50

The number of victims in a local identity theft case has risen to around 50

Thomas Harlow says he was shocked when he heard his identity had been stolen, especially when police said the suspect was from East Grand Forks.

"People always think of it being a virtual thief, somebody out in a third world country or something, but this was going on locally," Harlow said.

Harlow is one of around 50 people in the Grand Forks area who police say had their identities stolen by Troy Lafferty, who lives in East Grand Forks and is the owner of Techmedics, a computer repair shop in Grand Forks.

Harlow says he didn't even know a credit card had been taken out in his name until a police detective called him. Police say that's the case with most of the 50 victims.

"Usually we're trying to play catch up, whereas now we're trying to make sure we get ahold of everybody that we can," Sgt. Brett Johnson of the Grand Forks Police Department said.

Johnson says this is the largest identity theft case he's worked on in his 13 years with the Grand Forks Police Department. He says there are several things you can do to make sure your identity hasn't been stolen.

"Probably the number one best thing you can do is keep regular track of your credit report. You can get them free of the internet, so just check that regularly," Johnson said.

Harlow says he plans on checking his credit report frequently now. He says he was one of the luckier victims because his credit wasn't accessed yet, but that doesn't mean he won't have problems in the future.

"A lot of times when somebody steals your credit, they just don't use it. They'll sell it to other people to use. I didn't think of that, so of course I'll have to be diligent of that in the future," Harlow said.