The Shmooze

Holocaust Survivors: Beware Identity Theft

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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Elderly Holocaust survivors, many of whom require financial assistance for daily living expenses, now have another worry to contend with: identity theft. It seems that a worker in charge of protecting survivors’ interests was willing to steal their personal information in order to make a quick buck.

Crystal Thorne, 23, a coordinator at the Jewish Community Services of South Florida office in North Miami, is in police custody after having been arrested on Saturday. She was to have made her first appearance Monday in Miami federal court on charges of having sold Holocaust survivors’ identity information for a total of $1,000. Thorne had access to the survivors’ records in the agency’s Holocaust Survivors Assistance Program.

An informant told Miami police that Thorne had stolen information. The police let the Secret Service know, and the Secret Service instructed the police to have the informant contact Thorne about the activity and to record the conversation. Later, the informant met with Thorne in a Kmart parking lot in North Miami Beach. It was there, in the informant’s car, that Thorne handed over the identity information to the informant in exchange for $1,000.

Police were on the scene and nabbed Thorne as she exited the car. She said she had just given the informant the identity information sheets — printed on Holocaust Survivors Assistance Program letterhead — “in hopes of getting a couple of dollars.”


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