Former OKC Police Officer A Victim Of Identity Theft
OKLAHOMA CITY - You never expect going to get your tag renewed and finding out your car is titled under someone else's name. This is what happened to a retired police officer, and right now the suspect is still on the loose.
Edward Stupka worked as an Oklahoma City Police patrol officer for 27 years and he says he shreds everything with his personal information on it. That's why he's stunned he became a victim of identity theft.
"It's frustrating. I mean, I don't know how anyone can protect themselves from identity theft in the first place," says Stupka, who retired as a Master Sergeant in 2007.
Stupka believes someone must've stolen his mail because when he went to renew the tag on his 2003 Chevy Tahoe last November, the tag agency told him it was no longer in his name, even though it was parked out front. So Stupka went to the address of the truck's listed title owner.
"The car was a stolen vehicle," Stupka said. "Had my VIN plate on the front that someone had manufactured, so they impounded that."
Stupka says the truck owner bought the Tahoe off Craigslist from another person, who had a duplicate car title and a fake driver's license under Stupka's name.
"It was my name, but that wasn't my picture and it was a forged signature," Stupka said. "He even forged the notary's signature on the title."
Now, Stupka says he's had to jump through hoops in the court system just to get his title back in his name.
"I bought the car originally back in 2002, never sold it. Now it's cost me several hundred dollars extra," he said. "Plus, they could've run the driver's license number that was on the application to show it's totally bogus."
Stupka says he wishes the state would do more to verify true car ownership for people requesting a duplicate title.
"You have to show your social security card and birth certificate if you lose your driver's license," Stupka said. "So if someone wants a duplicate title, they should have to bring that car to the state, have it verified that the VIN numbers are correct, because there are five different VIN numbers on a truck."
On top of fees, Stupka says the state also wants him to pay an excise tax on his truck, even though he didn't re-purchase it. He says his title was stolen last May and that's why the suspect was able to get away with the scam for at least six months until Stupka's tag needed to be renewed. He says there are at least two men with a fake I.D. under his name, who are behind the scheme.
"Now, when my wife and I see the mailman, we pick it up immediately and don't let it sit for hours," Stupka said.
Police are asking anyone who recognizes the suspect to call Crime Stoppers at (405) 235-7300.