Data Lost from New York City Teachers' Retirement System - 3 Arrested

January 16, 2006

3 people were arrested in what law-enforcement officials believe is a multi-person operation that stole information from the Teachers' Retirement System and made out fraudulent checks. $42,000 was stolen from 7 pensioners. Stolen data included pensioners' personal information, such as Social Security and bank account numbers, birth dates and secure passwords.

Jerome Boyd, 27, a New York City Teachers' Retirement System clerk who had worked at the fund for three years was arrested on Dec. 15. Police found agency checks totaling $359,000 made out to 19 pension members or their beneficiaries in his Harlem apartment. The NYPD arrested several others involved in the same scheme who were not Teachers' Retirement System employees.

Jerome Boyd is reported to have viewed the personal and financial information of around 5,800 pensioners while he was working with the fund. Prosecutors are not certain if data was stolen from all of the accounts he had access to.

Normally employees of Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) are subjected to background checks, but Jerome Boyd, was hired by a temp agency. He had been arrested in May 2003 for cocaine dealing and was serving probation.

On December 1, 2005 police arrested Antoine Lawton and Kevin Braxton, who allegedly had been working with a Washington Mutual Bank teller to cash stolen checks. Detective Walter Burnes, the NYPD's Deputy Commissioner for Public Information, said last week that the arrests of Mr. Lawton and Mr. Braxton led police to Mr. Boyd.

"The two men tried to cash stolen checks at several different banks, but the one common thread was that all the bank accounts were from TRS pensioners," he said. "So police started following that lead, and it led to Boyd."

Sam Miller, a spokesman for the Teachers' Retirement System, said an investigation conducted by TRS and the NYPD revealed that accounts of a number of members had been affected.Detective Burnes said the investigation is ongoing and that there's a possibility the identity-theft ring stretched beyond the three arrested men.

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