Outside the Lines:
Identity Theft


Here's the transcript from Show 136 of weekly Outside The Lines - Identity Theft

SUN., NOV. 3, 2002
Host: Bob Ley
Reported by: Darren Rovell, ESPN.com
Guests: Jay Foley, Identity Theft Resource Center; John Marzano, 10-year major league baseball veteran; Nick Eddy, former Notre Dame running back

YOUNG GOLFER- I'm Tiger Woods.

YOUNG GOLFER- I'm Tiger Woods.

YOUNG GOLFER - I'm Tiger Woods.

BOB LEY, HOST- But what about him? He was Tiger Woods, running up thousands of dollars of bills in Woods' name.

TIGER WOODS, LEADING MONEY WINNER ON PGA TOUR- It's a violation, really, of your own persona.

LEY- It is identity theft, an increasingly prevalent crime, impostors cashing checks, charging goods even now in the names of professional athletes.

WOODS- You work so hard to get to where you're at, and you don't want some -- some -- some lunatic somewhere, you know, go ahead and screwing that all up.

LEY- Tiger Woods, Danny Wuerffel and Ty Law all had their identities stolen, and the loss in some cases of thousands of dollars.

TY LAW, PATRIOTS CORNERBACK- So I called my bank. I said, "Hey, what's going on?" They were, like, "Don't you remember? You came and you went to a branch and got $10,000 out."

LEY- Today on Outside The Lines, athletes, affluent public figures, and how easily they are victims of identity theft.

Over a half million Americans are victimized and violated each year. Their identities are stolen. Now, annually, the crime totals a billion dollars. It's a booming crime. Identity theft is so common that U.S. attorneys in New York, Los Angeles and Miami will not even pursue a case unless a person has lost over $50,000.

Now, imagine that you're a professional athlete. Your salary is regularly reported as news. Your birth date is available -- just check the press guide. Your comings and goings are known to all -- simply read the schedule in the sports section. Athletes are very public, they are very wealthy and they are very vulnerable to being victimized.

Identity thieves range from high-tech hackers who turn a Social Security number into thousands in illicit cash down to low-tech grifters who use chutzpah and the reflected glory of athletes to live in their names. Tiger Woods knows this very well. As ESPN.com's Darren Rovell reports, the most famous athlete in the country took it very personally.

DARREN ROVELL, REPORTER- Tiger Woods never knew Anthony Lamar Taylor, but Taylor certainly knew Tiger Woods. For an entire year, beginning in 1998, he was Tiger Woods. Using Woods' given name, Eldrick, on fraudulent documentation, Taylor ran up more than $50,000 in credit at several stores in Sacramento.

WOODS- It's a violation, really, of your own persona. I mean, you feel like you have been violated because you feel like you didn't do anything wrong. You have all your credit cards. You have all your driver's license. You got everything. You haven't let anything out of your sight, and nonetheless, you know, someone goes ahead and does that to you.

ROVELL- Taylor used Woods' identification, including a counterfeit Social Security card with the correct number but an incorrect middle name, to establish a $5,500 line of credit at this Circuit City, where he bought a DVD player and a dishwasher. At this electronics store, he purchased a video recorder, speakers and a big-screen TV. At this furniture store, he bought a sofa, a coffee table and lamps. And he even opened up an account at this Blockbuster Video.

There's no evidence that Taylor told store clerks he was Tiger Woods, the golfer. And by using the name Eldrick, most merchants never made the connection.

WOODS- No matter what I would have done or could have done, I couldn't have stopped this one. It's one of those things that it probably is going to happen to, you know, somebody at some point in time, and you just hope that it doesn't -- doesn't damage you with your credit card companies or people you're affiliated with.

ROVELL- The yearlong spending spree came to an abrupt end when Taylor was arrested on a parole violation and his counterfeit identification was found. Two hours later, investigators arrived at this facility and discovered a storage unit reserved in Woods' name.

LYNN ROLOFF, DETECTIVE, SACRAMENTO COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT- Once we had popped open the door of the storage unit, it was completely full of brand-new merchandise.

ROVELL- Detective Lynn Roloff investigated the case for the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department's identity theft task force.

Did Anthony Lamar Taylor look like Tiger Woods?


ROVELL- What did he -- what -- describe him for me.

ROLOFF- Tiger's very tall, six-one, six-two, I believe. Anthony Taylor is much shorter. Anthony Taylor's heavier. There's -- I personally don't think that there's much of a resemblance at all.

ROVELL- But that didn't matter here.

ROLOFF- If you didn't know that Eldrick Woods is Tiger, you wouldn't question that.

ROVELL- Anthony Lamar Taylor was convicted on eight counts of identity fraud. On April 27th, 2001, he was sentenced to 200 years to life. The Woods verdict, combined with two previous convictions, triggered California's "three strikes" rule. Taylor is in California State Prison in Salinas while his appeal is pending.

WOODS- ... because you work so hard to get to where you're at and you don't want some -- some lunatic somewhere, you know, go ahead and screwing that all up, because you work so hard to get to your -- to get to that point. And you know, it's unfortunate, but you know what? It'll probably happen to me again or happen to other athletes, as well.

LAW- Just a game. Let's see if I can get away with being, you know, Tiger Woods. I mean, who -- if you get away with that, damn it, you're good.

ROVELL- Patriots cornerback Ty Law is among the list of athletes who have been victimized by the fastest-growing crime in America. Spurs guard Steve Smith's information was used to run up $81,000 in credit card charges, and Redskins quarterback Danny Wuerffel had a store account opened in his name without his knowledge. In Ty Law's case, a man named Jonathan Hoskins obtained an Ohio driver's license in Law's name and made two $10,000 withdrawals from Law's bank account.

LAW- I was going to get some cash out of the ATM and, you know, I just, you know, happened to look at the receipt, and I was, like, Hey. I said, I know I got more than $33 in my account, you know what I mean? I was, like, something's wrong. Now, I know I make a pretty decent living, but I know when I take $10,000 cash out of the bank.

And it was funny. When I seen the picture, I was, like, this guy looks nothing like me. But he was convincing enough to the people and the branch manager and everyone else there that he was Ty Law. And I guess, you know, people were excited that I was there, so they was just -- pretty much gave him everything that he wanted.

ROVELL- Wuerffel could have told Law that looks don't matter. While the quarterback was with Green Bay, an African-American man used Wuerffel's identification, walked into a New Jersey store and filled out a credit application.

DANNY WUERFFEL, REDSKINS QUARTERBACK- Apparently, this individual got some information on me -- Social Security number, a copy of a birth certificate -- and did get some form of valid identification card and was approved at Home Depot for a $16,000 credit. And then all he had to do was get to the store and make the purchase. So he was approved. He goes there, and for some reason, he was denied the purchase, and so then they started checking into it. And that's when they found out that it wasn't me.

LAW- I think football players are more targets than anybody, or it would be if I had that type of mindset because everybody don't know what we look like because we're always on the sideline and we're always behind that facemask.

MAN IN COMMERCIAL- I am Emmitt Smith.

MAN IN COMMERCIAL- I am Emmitt Smith.

MAN IN COMMERCIAL- I'm Emmitt Smith.




EMMIT SMITH- I am Emmitt Smith. No, really. I am.

ROVELL- The NFL says it deals with dozens of identity theft cases every year. Three years ago, it became the first league to formally address the problem by briefing its players. Today, the league security department is trying to get teams to eliminate dates of birth on player bios, which could be a starting point for the crime. Still, all 32 teams list birth dates in both their media guides and on NFL.com.

For Milt Ahlerich, vice president of NFL security, warning the players to protect their personal information has become a priority.

MILT AHLERICH, NFL VP OF SECURITY- We tell players, don't use your Social Security number for anything. Keep it off of your checks. Keep your date of birth off of your driver's license. You lose your wallet, and you've got some of these numbers in your wallet, you've run the risk right there. Even mail that doesn't look to have anything terribly important on it, it might have a date of birth or a Social Security number.

ROVELL- Victims also include team owners. Lakers owner Jerry Buss' $161,000 tax refund check was obtained by a California man who attempted to open a brokerage account as Buss' son. Former Mets owner Nelson Doubleday allegedly had five fraudulent credit card accounts opened in his name. And five months ago, Sacramento Kings owner Joe Maloof became a victim, as well.

JOE MALOOF, SACRAMENTO KINGS CO-OWNER- A con man got a hold of somehow some identification that I had and forged a check for over $50,000. And you know, the bank called me. I didn't know -- I didn't remember writing that kind of a check for anything. And he got away with $52,000.

ROVELL- After notifying the FBI, Maloof canceled his credit card accounts and changed banks.

MALOOF- As you become more of a public figure, you know, you have to be careful because things like this -- there are a lot of con men out there, and you know, they're going to do whatever they can to get into your bankroll or your pocketbook. What he did to me and what they've done to Tiger and other professional athletes -- it's a sin.

LEY- Joining us this morning to consider identity theft and pro athletes is Jay Foley of the Identity Theft Resource Center. He joins us early in the morning in San Diego.

Good morning, Jay.


LEY- I spoke just this morning to a couple of guys that I work with here who played in the National Football League. They each had anecdotes about having their identity borrowed or stolen or misused. How easy is it for a pro athlete to have his identity lifted and used?

FOLEY- It's simple. It's a matter of just gathering two or three bits of information, putting together a picture and start processing the accounts and putting on the persona, for lack of a better term.

LEY- Having the chutzpah to use it.

FOLEY- Exactly.

LEY- And public figures -- they're especially vulnerable?

FOLEY- Yes, they are, because too much of their personal information is readily available.

LEY- What's law enforcement doing about this? Assess what you feel, as an expert in this field, of whether law enforcement is doing enough.

FOLEY- Law enforcement is actually doing the best that they can. You have to remember, everything about the account that's been set up leads them to the athlete, leads them to the victim, not to the perpetrator. So it takes a lot of little puzzle pieces to put together for them to come up with an actual profile of the perpetrator and be able to bring that person to justice.

LEY- I know you've got some pieces of advice for anybody, but especially public figures, but even citizens at large, to avoid identity theft, and here they are. You advise folks to not carry cards with your Social Security number. Don't use an unlocked mailbox. Shred personal documents, including pre-approved credit card offers. And don't provide your Social Security number without knowing how it's going to be used or safeguarded.

Let me pick up on that last one. I mean, you cannot even these days check on your cable bill, call anywhere without being asked for your Social Security number. Everybody seemingly wants it and uses it to follow people. How can you safeguard it like that when it is required by so many people?

FOLEY- Well, when you're dealing with any business, there's four questions you should be asking. What do you need it for? What steps are you taking to protect it? Who will have access to it? And when you're done with it, how will you dispose of it? If they don't give you an adequate answer to any one of the four, don't give it to them.

In regards to checking on various accounts, they already have your Social Security number. They're trying to use that as verification. If you're making the call to them, you're fairly safe. If they're calling you, never give it out over the phone.

LEY- Jay, that's great advice. I appreciate it. Thanks for joining us this morning.

FOLEY- Not a problem.

LEY- All right, Jay Foley.

Next I'll be speaking with two victims -- two athletes who were indeed victims of identity theft, a Heisman Trophy candidate whose identity was stolen and used without his knowledge for 20 years, and also a former major leaguer who was confronted with thousands of dollars in bills when an impostor rang them up in his name.

NOTRE DAME SPORTS ANNOUNCER- Notre Dame moving in the first quarter. Heisman Trophy winner John Huart completes a pass to sophomore sensation Nick Eddy for 22 yards!

LEY- Notre Dame's Nick Eddy finished third in the balloting for the 1966 Heisman Trophy behind Steve Spurrier and Bob Griese. He then went on to play with the Detroit Lions in the National Football League. And he has been victimized by identity theft. Nick Eddy joins us this morning from Sacramento. John Marzano played 10 years in the major leagues, principally with the Boston Red Sox and the Seattle Mariners. He retired after the 1998 season. And John Marzano joins us this morning from Philadelphia.

Good morning to you both.

Nick, you have a rather unusual case. For 20 years, there was a fellow on the other side of the country living, coaching football in your name. This went on for 20 years. How did you begin to learn about this?

NICK EDDY, NOTRE DAME HALFBACK (1964-66)- Well, it was a long process, actually. I got a call on my voice-mail from my former coach at Notre Dame, position coach, Tom Pagna, who told me he was sorry to hear about my house burning down and my wife and I being divorced. And I married a high school sweetheart, Jean, from -- we both went to high school together in Tracy, California, and I was just astonished at it. And anyhow, one thing led to another. Come to find out that there was an article written about myself back in the New Bedford "Standard Times" newspaper, and I had to call the newspaper, had them fax me a copy of the article. And they got the phone number for me, so I was able to call the victim -- or the perpetrator himself.

LEY- All right, recount that phone call. Was it -- what was that like, to call a guy who had been Nick Eddy in your name for 20 years?

EDDY- Well, once I got the article, it was real bizarre, and a kind of a sick feeling came upon me because there was a picture with him and his son on the sideline of a football game where he was a coach. And also, to read the article, he's talking about when he went to high school in San Diego, and so on. And it just -- I just couldn't believe this fellow actually thought he was me. And he had used my resume to get himself a job. He never actually finished college.

And so anyhow, I was down duck hunting with some friends, and once I got the phone number, I called him. And he answered the phone, and I asked if this was Nick Eddy, and he said yes. I says, "Well, this is the real Nick Eddy." And then there was silence. And I could hear some young person in the background, and he said, "Can I get a number and call you back?" I said, "I'm not giving you my phone number, but" -- I told him that "Basically, it sounds like you -- your family doesn't know." And he said, "That's correct." So I said, "I'll give you 24 hours to set things straight with them, and then I'll call you tomorrow. We'll talk more about this."

And basically, I called him back. His wife had locked herself in the room. The boy was too young to understand it completely. And he told me he was desperate and needed a job, and he used my resume when he saw a Notre Dame poster on the wall.

LEY- Yes. His name was William McMullen. We just put a picture up of him. He had been let go from his high school coaching job after all of this came out.

John, let me turn to you. You had a slightly different experience How did you get wind that somebody was posing as John Marzano?

JOHN MARZANO, MAJOR LEAGUE CATCHER (1987-98)- Well, I was getting letters in my locker saying that, "We had a great time last weekend." You know, "I'm in love with you. I can't wait to see you again. I can't wait to spend more time together." And what happened was, I took that letter home to call baseball security to let them know that, you know, there's somebody out there using my name.

Well, I was at the field. I see my wife coming to the stands, and I could tell she wasn't real happy. After the game, I find out that she had found the letter on the table, thinking that I was having an affair with someone every weekend. And I tried to explain to her, "Honey, how can I have an affair? I'm playing baseball. I'm not out all the time trying to meet women." This guy was going out. He was trying to meet women. And it was really tough, and it was really hard on my wife because she was very upset. She cried for, like, a week because it was hard for me to explain to her that "It's really not me, honey," because I am on the road, and when you're a major league baseball player, you're on the road a lot.

LEY- So you turned it over to baseball security, and what happened?

MARZANO- Well, they -- they investigated it. And what happened was they finally caught up with this guy, and it's ironic that he went out and was trying to get into a movie called "Other People's Money."

MARZANO- So it's kind of funny. He was trying to audition for a movie using my name. And a cop that was there noticed that it wasn't me because he knew me from when I played in the big leagues. So they wind up -- the cop went up to him, said he wasn't me. They locked him up. And the guy's name was Kevin Winn.

LEY- Yes, he's a fairly well known impostor and has served jail time, as well.

Nick, how does -- how does it -- when you reflect back on it, how does it make you feel to realize that somebody was living as you, in your reflected glory, using all your football reputation and what not for years and years?

EDDY- Well, it's a sick feeling, actually. I think Tiger said it best. You work hard to accomplish what you've accomplished. I'm very proud of what I accomplished, and my family is, too. But then when you hear somebody else is trying to use that to their benefit, then it does upset you, and so on. But so something -- I don't know what can be done, but something definitely needs to be done because athletes are so vulnerable, with their bios right there in the media guides for anybody to access, so they can learn all about the background of an individual.

LEY- John, how did you feel about this?

MARZANO- Well, you know, it just -- it's tough because, you know, I was scared because -- right now, also, I get phone calls where people call me up, and they're, like, you know, "Can we have your Social Security number," if I want to refinance my home. And you know, it's amazing how so many people will call. And it's day in and day out, where people are just trying to get more information about me.

And like Nick said, it's so easy for people to get your identity, to pick up something about you, to go out and to buy stuff and to try to get your Social Security number. I try not to use my Social Security number on the Internet. There's a lot of times -- I have a business now in Philadelphia, Baseball Academy, and I won't even use my credit card to buy stuff. So I'll have to wait. I'll have to go out and pay cash because I'm nervous about what happened to me.

Anybody can get your Social Security number or get your credit card number and go out -- and they see your name, even though, you know, I was a back-up player when I played in the big leagues, they see your name, John Marzano, and they see your credit card number, they think you have a lot of money and they're going to try to take your money.

LEY- I mentioned earlier I'd spoken to two fellows that work here who played in the NFL. Just on a spur of the moment, I asked them anything like this happen. They each had a story. John, in major league clubhouses, after this happened to you, was your antenna up? What sort of stories did you hear about this from other people?

MARZANO- Yes, well, you know, it -- I mean, a lot of guys' antennas are up because a lot of guys are really guarded now. They're guarded with their families, they're guarded with their personal stuff, because you never know what could happen. I mean, you have a lot of people coming in and out of clubhouses. I know there's reporters that come in and out. So you know, people's clothes are in their lockers, and they have identity in there. Some people can come in and take it out, and it's really tough. And a lot of people are guarded.

See, for me, it was easy for him to get my identity because I was a back-up catcher. I played maybe once or twice a week. I wore a mask. So it was hard for people outside to recognize me and to know who I was. So he can go out and fool people. If he went to a restaurant or if he went somewhere, he could fool them into saying that he was John Marzano because I seen the picture of Kevin Win. I'm as Italian as they come. He didn't look anything like me!

LEY- And Nick, you played back in the '60s before the concentration of media. Who would know today what Nick Eddy looks like?

EDDY- Yes. Media today has definitely made players, I think, more vulnerable. You know, the money is the big attraction. In my day, we didn't have quite the money that they have now. But I mean, it still happens, time -- you know, as Jay said earlier -- or my wife and I just had a call just the other night, that "you've been pre-approved," and so on. And then they started asking questions. And once they asked me some questions that I thought they should know, I just cut the conversation off because the antenna has gone up, as you said.

We are much more aware of things. We just recently bought a house, and we went through that whole process. And fortunately, everything went through OK there. But it's -- it's really a -- really a very -- a situation that's very difficult for players, I think, because, you know, they should be able to concentrate on what they do best, and that's play their sport, rather than have to worry about somebody taking their identity and running up charges against them.

LEY- John, advice you might give to a young ballplayer in the minors, going to break through to the majors? You want to relate to fans. You want to be fan-friendly. But what would your advice be to these players?

MARZANO- Well, you have to be fan-friendly, but you also have to be careful on, like Nick said, giving out your Social Security number, giving out any information, any tidbit of information that they might know, maybe your kids' names, because a lot of people ask me, "What's your children's name?" and I will never tell them because if they have that information -- your wife's name and your children's name -- they could use that against you.

And sometimes the media guides I think hurt players because they can go in a media guide. They can see what's your wife, how old your children are, and they can use that if they're going out and they're meeting somebody. "Yes, well, I have my daughter," so-and-such a name, my wife's name. And if they know that, they can get money and they can use your identity even more.

LEY- Nick Eddy, John Marzano -- guys, thanks for weathering that storm, and thanks for joining us this morning. We appreciate it.

EDDY- You're welcome.

MARZANO- Thank you.

LEY- Next up, your thoughts on the seemingly endless legacy of losing that has enveloped the Cincinnati Bengals franchise.

LEY- How bad has it gotten for the Bengals? Last week, down six, a minute to go, 4th and goal from the 1, Corey Dillon -- no. He stumbles over his own lineman. Could have been a tying touchdown, but the Bengals fall to 0-7.

The Bengals' legacy of losing -- our topic last Sunday. It has raised the possibility of legal action against the franchise by the local county government. Dave Lapham, who played for the team and is now their radio analyst, suggested last week what needs to be done with the Bengals.

DAVE LAPHAM, BENGALS OFFENSIVE LINEMAN (1974-83)- They have to evaluate everything -- how they do business, do they need a general manager, their personnel department. Maybe they have to evaluate the evaluators. Are the players playing up to par? Are the coaches coaching up to par? I mean, there's no confidence at any level of this organization, coaches in each other, players in each other, players to coaches, coaches to players. It's really a nightmare.

LEY- And within six hours of that conversation, the Bengals were 0-7.

A viewer in Salisbury, Ohio, writes, "With all the talk of baseball contracting, maybe the NFL should consider this for the Bengals, who have not even been successful or competitive for over a decade. I personally feel that no one would miss the Bengals except for comedians who need a punchline."

From the Bengals' hometown -- "The question that was not addressed is the possibility of the league taking any action against the Bengals. With the current revenue sharing that exists, the fact that the Bengals never sell out has to hurt the remaining teams. When it comes to merchandising, I bet the Bengals are not even number one in their own city. If you market the league as a whole, any team that annually performs the way the Bengals do would have to be addressed."

And from the Queen City, as well, this sentiment -- "Indianapolis is only an hour-and-a-half drive from Cincinnati. Go Colts."

Those e-mails addressed online. The key word at ESPN.com is OTLWeekly for our transcripts of all our Sunday morning programs. And our e-mail address, otlweekly@espn.com. We look forward to your thoughts on today's topic, identity theft. And thanks for being in touch.

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