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Identity Thief Sought

<bt>For the last two months, a Clifton couple has been repeatedly victimized by an identity thief, who has opened numerous credit accounts in their name and continues to steal thousands of dollars.

"This guy is very brazen," said Shelley Brodeck, a Fairfax County police spokeswoman. "He somehow obtained their information and started opening bank accounts. This poor couple is beside themselves."

Fairfax County investigators are seeking the public's assistance in identifying the suspect, whose image was caught on camera at a Greenbelt, Md. grocery store's bank as he opened an account.

The Clifton couple, who are not being identified by police, have placed fraud alerts on their accounts with their credit bureaus.

But every time, the identity thief called the credit agencies and convinced the firms to remove the fraud alerts, police said.

"The craziness is that he's bypassed the security systems in place to protect people," Broderick said.

Identity theft is usally a "faceless" crime, in which the criminal steals a person's money and then disappears. In this case, the suspect has repeatedly opened new bank accounts in the Washington, D.C. region since July 8.

The suspect has given banks an address in Columbia, Md. He is described as black, approximately 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighing 135 pounds. He is believed to be between 32 and 40 years old. He speaks with a strong Nigerian accent.

Anyone with information on the identity of the suspect or his whereabouts is asked to call Fairfax County Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS. A $1,000 cash reward will be paid for information leading to his arrest. Callers do not have to give their names or appear in court.

Identity theft is on the rise in Fairfax County and elsewhere in the nation. In Fairfax County alone, several hundred residents fall victim to identity theft, according to police.