Starter jobs: how's stamping license plates sound to you?
Possibly because I'm intrigued why what would motivate someone - especially someone who seems to have had the advantages of a solidly middle-class upbringing would turn to a life of crime. Possibly because my brother-in-law Rick is a Penn grad. (And, if I'm not mistaken, his sister is a Drexel alum.) And possibly because I just like reading about bone-heads, I really enjoyed a recent story I saw about a young Philadelphia couple who are going to cop a plea, admitting that "fraud fueled [their] luxury lifestyle."
Drexel's own Jocelyn Kirsch, 22, and her Penn-grad beau, Edward Anderton, 25, were arrested late last year, because they were apparently unwilling to take the starter job, Boomerang back home to bunk in with Mom and Dad, and apply to business school. No, they wanted to so take a short cut, so:
They stole credit-card and bank-account information from friends, co-workers and neighbors to finance lavish purchases and travel, prosecutors said. They were arrested when they claimed a package at a local UPS store under a neighbor's ID. The package contained lingerie from a British retailer.
Anderton, who majored in economics, was a fairly entrepreneurial type. He had a couple of fake eBay accounts , using stolen identities, through which he sold non-existent goods to real people, which netted him $33K in walking-around money, which he presumably spent some of on his trip with Jocelyn to Paris, and on other luxury vacations that they apparently needed to rest up from their studies and the exertions of identity theft.
Although it may not have involved all that much exertion. The police say that most of the identities/credit card numbers they stole were of people who lived in the same building where the couple nestled in a $3,000 a month apartment. (My first college apartment was $150 a month, but that was a long time ago. What was once a pretty dumpy neighborhood has been gentrified in the intervening years, and I just googled up a one-bedroom there for $1450, a two BR for $1950. Parking spaces available for - what do you know - $150 a month.)
When they were arrested, police found quite a few goodies in their digs:
A weekend search of the couple's $3,000-a-month apartment turned up a cache of tech toys: four computers, two printers, a scanner and an industrial machine that makes ID cards. Police also found $17,500 in cash, dozens of credit cards and fake drivers' licenses, and keys to unlock many of the apartments and mailboxes in their upscale Rittenhouse Square apartment building. Police are not yet sure how they got the keys. (Source: AP article on MSNBC)
The search also turned up a book titled, "The Art of Cheating: A Nasty Little Book for Tricky Little Schemers and Their Hapless Victims," as well as a newspaper article on "How to Spot Fake IDs."
A weekend search of my $150 a month apartment on Queensberry Street would have yielded books like C. Wright Mills White Collar, and W.E.B. DuBois' The Souls of Black Folk, which my dog had chewed the bright red cover off of.
The search would also have yielded an old record player,a bunch of albums, a couple of old radios, two dog bowls (food and water), jeans, sweaters, a decent assortment of (used) dishes, glasses, and pots and pans, some posters, a few decorative touches, and little else. Oh, and maybe some Zig-Zag papers.
If any cash were to be found, it would have been whatever coins had fallen in behind the pillows of the ancient, 1940's studio couch or the two ancient, 1940's armchairs (those solid, too-heavy-to-move numbers covered with that never-wear-out fabric that felt like you were sitting on the bristle end of a scrub brush).
It wouldn't have been worth steeling the identities of anyone in our building, a combination of students, the elderly, and recent immigrants, most of whom probably didn't have credit cards to begin with.
Man, who would have given a college student a credit card? What a crazy idea?
We just cashed the meager checks from our crappy jobs and when we ran out of walking around money, we stopped walking around and just hung out.
The downfall for this latter day, unarmed Bonnie and Clyde came when one of their neighbors got a call to come to the UPS store around the corner to come pick up a package that was waiting for her. Problem was, she hadn't ordered anything.
But Kirsch and Anderton had - that fancy lingerie - and when they strolled into the store, no doubt hand-in-hand and with a twinkle in their starry eyes, the police arrested them. (As an aside: am I the only one who remembers the day and age when lingerie from London would have conjured up images of knee-length flannel undies lined with mohair?)
"They were just so arrogant," Philadelphia Detective Terry Sweeney, the lead investigator, said Monday. "When you start committing ID theft around the corner from where you live, it's going to come back to haunt you."
And this will be coming back to haunt these two in a couple of ways.
First, there'll be their felony prison sentences, which could get them up to 5 years in the stir for Kirsch, based on some assumptions about her plea deal. Alas, in prison, she won't be able to pop into a salon for $1700 worth of hair extensions. But she will have time to grow her own.
And my guess is she gave her boyfriend up, in more ways than one, so he's probably got a few more years to face. (These are federal charges they're both facing, by the way.)
Then there'll be the lifelong conviction hanging over them when they go to look for their somewhat delayed starter jobs.
Meanwhile, Anderton has lost the $60K a year starter job in real estate finance he did have and is back home living with his family, and Kirsch - a few credits short of her Drexel degrees - is back home with her mom, as well.
These Boomerang-ers do have a persistent habit of making their way back home, don't they?
We'll no doubt see one and/or both of these two on Dr. Phil and Oprah once they've done their time, talking about how easy it was for them to just drift into a life of crime, what with all those identities just laying around.
I can hardly wait.