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ID theft suspected in phony census-taker scam

April 1, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
An Inland Empire woman says she was targeted by a census scam designed to steal personal information. How do you know if a census taker at your door is a fake? The alleged scam was carried out by a man pretending to be a census taker. Here's how to avoid being taken in by this new form of identity theft."He wouldn't let me see what he was writing. He kept his clipboard at an angle and kept writing," said Crestline resident Janine King.

D. Janine King says it started as a knock on the door on the 1000 block of Mars Way in Crestline over the weekend. She says a man showed up claiming to be with the U.S. Census Bureau, asking for very personal information, including her Social Security number.

When the man threatened that she'd be breaking the law if she didn't tell him what he wanted to know, she gave in.

"I am so angry about this, a situation where people can impose on others and get their information in the name of census, this must be a prime time for people to be doing that," said King.

Eyewitness News confirmed that census workers were in fact going door to door in Crestline over the weekend so officials could have residents fill out census forms in person, because most people in the area don't have their own mailboxes.

But the description of the suspect does not match the description of the census worker other neighbors saw up here. And the identification badge the suspect was wearing did not look anything like the actual census badge, the one that all census workers are required to wear.

So the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department says this incident is probably the work of a scam artist, someone unaffiliated with the U.S. Census.

Meantime, census officials say be aware that there are only certain questions that officials will ask.

"I don't want anyone feeling they need to be on guard and being asked questions that are off the mark, because we're only looking for these 10 questions, that's it," said census manager Bee Pindell.

The suspect is described as a white man in his 60s, with short gray hair and blue eyes, 5 feet 5 inches tall, weighing approximately 150 pounds. He was wearing blue jeans and a rust-colored T-shirt.

If you have information related to this case, you're asked to call the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department at (909) 336-0600.