Man Pleads Guilty To Nightmarish Identity Theft Scheme

Man Pleads Guilty To Nightmarish Identity Theft Scheme

( – Experts constantly tell people how important it is to safeguard sensitive data to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft. But what happens when someone reports such an incident and authorities wrongfully imprison the victim? That’s what happened to a California man at the heart of a nightmare scheme.

In 2019, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa, William Woods learned that someone was using his name to rack up large amounts of debt. Woods was homeless at the time, but he went to a bank in Los Angeles and explained the situation. When he couldn’t answer the security questions on the account, the bank employees called the police. LAPD officers called Matthew David Keirans, who had assumed Woods’ identity and lived in Wisconsin. Keirans faxed the police fake documents asserting he was actually Woods, which ended with police charging the victim with two felonies and remanding him to custody.

Woods maintained throughout his criminal proceedings that he was not Keirans. The court eventually found him mentally unfit to stand trial and ordered him held in a mental hospital, where he received psychotropic medication. Finally, he pleaded “no contest.” Woods spent a total of 575 days between the county jail and the mental facility. When authorities released him, he sought to reaffirm who he was.

Eventually, in January 2023, he learned where Keirans worked and reported him to authorities. The real Keirans continued to maintain the charade, insisting Woods was crazy and authorities should incarcerate him until authorities confronted him with DNA evidence. He then confessed to perpetrating the identity theft, which lasted more than three decades. On April 1, 2024, a federal court convicted Keirans of a single count of aggravated identity theft and a single count of making a false statement to a National Credit Union Administration-insured institution.

The federal judge will set a sentencing date pending a post-sentencing report, but Keirans is facing a maximum of 32 years in jail, five years of supervised release, and a $1.25 million fine.

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