Cyber Crime Junkies

Caught: The Williams Woods Identity Theft Story - A Shocking Twist.

June 10, 2024 Cyber Crime Junkies. Host David Mauro. Season 5 Episode 1
Caught: The Williams Woods Identity Theft Story - A Shocking Twist.
Cyber Crime Junkies
More Info
Cyber Crime Junkies
Caught: The Williams Woods Identity Theft Story - A Shocking Twist.
Jun 10, 2024 Season 5 Episode 1
Cyber Crime Junkies. Host David Mauro.

NEW! Text Us Direct Here!

The Williams Woods Story. What Happens when Your Identity is Stolen.
Video Episode: https://youtu.be/mBU3J-4vKww

Accelerate your CMMC 2.0 compliance and address federal zero-trust requirements with Kiteworks' universal, secure file sharing platform made for every organization, and helpful to defense contractors.

Visit kiteworks.com to get started. 

We're thrilled to introduce Season 5 Cyber Flash Points to show what latest tech news means to online safety with short stories helping spread security awareness and the importance of online privacy protection.

"Cyber Flash Points" – your go-to source for practical and concise summaries.

So, tune in and welcome to "Cyber Flash Points”

🎧 Subscribe now http://www.youtube.com/@cybercrimejunkiespodcast and never miss an episode!

Follow Us:
🔗 Website: https://cybercrimejunkies.com
📱 X/Twitter: https://x.com/CybercrimeJunky
📸 Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cybercrimejunkies/

Want to help us out? Leave us a 5-Star review on Apple Podcast Reviews.
Listen to Our Podcast:
🎙️ Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/cyber-crime-junkies/id1633932941
🎙️ Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/5y4U2v51gztlenr8TJ2LJs?si=537680ec262545b3
🎙️ Google Podcasts: http://www.youtube.com/@cybercrimejunkiespodcast

Join the Conversation: 💬 Leave your comments and questions. TEXT THE LINK ABOVE . We'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions for future episodes!

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

NEW! Text Us Direct Here!

The Williams Woods Story. What Happens when Your Identity is Stolen.
Video Episode: https://youtu.be/mBU3J-4vKww

Accelerate your CMMC 2.0 compliance and address federal zero-trust requirements with Kiteworks' universal, secure file sharing platform made for every organization, and helpful to defense contractors.

Visit kiteworks.com to get started. 

We're thrilled to introduce Season 5 Cyber Flash Points to show what latest tech news means to online safety with short stories helping spread security awareness and the importance of online privacy protection.

"Cyber Flash Points" – your go-to source for practical and concise summaries.

So, tune in and welcome to "Cyber Flash Points”

🎧 Subscribe now http://www.youtube.com/@cybercrimejunkiespodcast and never miss an episode!

Follow Us:
🔗 Website: https://cybercrimejunkies.com
📱 X/Twitter: https://x.com/CybercrimeJunky
📸 Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cybercrimejunkies/

Want to help us out? Leave us a 5-Star review on Apple Podcast Reviews.
Listen to Our Podcast:
🎙️ Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/cyber-crime-junkies/id1633932941
🎙️ Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/5y4U2v51gztlenr8TJ2LJs?si=537680ec262545b3
🎙️ Google Podcasts: http://www.youtube.com/@cybercrimejunkiespodcast

Join the Conversation: 💬 Leave your comments and questions. TEXT THE LINK ABOVE . We'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions for future episodes!

Summary

This conversation discusses the true cybercrime story of William Woods, a man whose life was turned upside down by a stolen identity. The story begins in 1988 when Woods' wallet goes missing, containing crucial pieces of his identity. The thief, Matthew David Kearns, starts living a double life using Woods' identity. Kearns acquires new identification documents and even lands a high-level IT job at a hospital, earning close to $1 million over a 10-year period. Meanwhile, the real William Woods becomes homeless and discovers a mountain of debt accumulated in his name. He tries to report the identity theft but is arrested and labeled mentally incompetent. He spends 575 days trapped in a legal and psychological nightmare. The conversation highlights the importance of personal privacy and identity protection. This conversation explores the case of William Woods, who had his identity stolen by Matthew Kearns for over 30 years. The discussion highlights the failures of the legal and medical systems in addressing the issue and the impact it had on Woods' life. After a lengthy investigation, Kearns was arrested and pleaded guilty to federal charges of identity theft. Woods has plans to file a lawsuit against Kearns and other parties involved in his wrongful arrest and incarceration. The conversation emphasizes the importance of securing personal documents, monitoring financial activity, using strong passwords and multifactor authentication, and being cautious with personal information.

Takeaways

Identity theft can have devastating consequences for the victim, leading to financial ruin and legal troubles.
It is crucial to value personal privacy and take steps to protect one's identity.
The story highlights the flaws in the security questions used by banks and the need for stronger identity verification methods.
Parents should monitor and freeze their children's credit to prevent identity theft from occurring at a young age. Identity theft can have severe and long-lasting consequences for the victim.
The legal and medical systems failed to address the issue of identity theft in the case of William Woods.
Securing personal documents and monitoring financial activity are crucial in preventing identity theft.
Using strong passwords and multifactor authentication can help protect personal information.
Being cautious with personal information and taking immediate action if identity is compromised are essential steps in preventing and addressing identity theft.



Chapters

00:00 Introduction and Overview
02:34 The Beginning: William Woods' Simple Life
04:18 The Theft and Double Life of Matthew Kierens
07:20 Identity Theft and Employment at a Hospital
11:30 William Woods Discovers the Debt
15:18 Bank Account Security Questions and Bias
20:03 Forced Medication and Mental Incompetence
20:52 Introduction to the Case of William Woods
21:11 Failures of the Legal and Medical Systems
22:28 Arrest and Guilty Plea: Matthew Kearns' Identity Theft Scheme Unravels
25:37 Seeking Justice: William Woods' Lawsuit and Plans for Compensation
31:08 Best Practices for Protecting Your Identity and Personal Information

Topics: 

  • what happens when your identity is stolen, 
  • what can the thief do after stealing your identity today, 
  • what can a thief do after stealing your identity today, 
  • what should you do if your identity is stolen, 
  • identity and brand protection, how to keep your identity safe,
  •  how to protect your online identity and reputation, 
  • story of William woods, 
  • how william woods lost his identity, 
  • what can happen when you lose your identity, 



Secure Personal Documents

  1. Shred Sensitive Documents: Use a cross-cut shredder to destroy documents containing personal information, such as bank statements, medical records, and credit card offers.
  2. Store Securely: Keep important documents like birth certificates, Social Security cards, passports, and tax records in a secure location, such as a locked drawer or safe​ (University of Michigan Law School)​.


Monitor Financial Activity

  1. Regularly Check Credit Reports: Review your credit reports at least annually from the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to ensure there are no unauthorized accounts or inquiries​ (Yahoo)​.
  2. Set Up Alerts: Enable account alerts on your bank and credit card accounts to receive notifications of suspicious activity​ (WPR)​.


Use Strong Passwords and Authentication

  1. Create Strong Passwords: Use complex passwords that include a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid using easily guessable information like birthdays or common words​ (KTAR.com)​.
  2. Enable Two-Factor Authentication: Use two-factor authentication (2FA) for online accounts to add an extra layer of security​ (Yahoo)​.


Be Cautious with Personal Information

  1. Limit Sharing on Social Media: Avoid sharing too much personal information on social media platforms. Information like your birthday, address, and phone number can be used by identity thieves​ (Yahoo)​.
  2. Be Wary of Phishing Scams: Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails. Verify the source before providing any personal information​ (KTAR.com)​.


Secure Digital Devices

  1. Update Software Regularly: Keep your operating system, browsers, and other software up to date to protect against security vulnerabilities​ (WPR)​.
  2. Use Security Software: Install and maintain antivirus, anti-malware, and firewall software to protect your devices from malicious attacks​ (KTAR.com)​.


Manage Physical Mail

  1. Use a Locked Mailbox: If possible, use a locked mailbox to prevent mail theft. Alternatively, consider using a P.O. Box for sensitive mail​ (Yahoo)​.
  2. Opt Out of Pre-Approved Credit Offers: Reduce the number of unsolicited credit offers you receive by opting out through the official website OptOutPrescreen.com​ (WPR)​.


Immediate Actions if Identity is Compromised

  1. Place a Fraud Alert: Contact one of the major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit report, which makes it harder for thieves to open accounts in your name​ (KTAR.com)​.
  2. File a Report: Report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and your local police department​ (University of Michigan Law School)​.

By implementing these strategies, you can significantly reduce the risk of identity theft and protect your personal information from being misused.

 


References

  • William Woods - National Registry of Exonerations​ (University of Michigan Law School)​
  • Man Convicted in Decades-Long Identity Theft that Led to His Victim Being Jailed - NY1​ (NY1)​
  • A Wisconsin Man Stole His Identity for Over 30 Years, But Nobody Believed Him - WPR​ (WPR)​

Hospital Administrator Stole a Man's Identity: How the Fallout Led Victim to Be Sent to Psychiatric Facility - PEOPLE​ (Peoplemag)​

 



D. Mauro (00:01.934)
All right. Welcome everybody to Cyber Crime Junkies. Today we're going to go over a true cybercrime that's going to blow your mind. Mark joins me in the studio. Mark Mosher. How are you, sir?

Mark Mosher (00:19.75)
I'm doing great, David. You know, this is one of those stories, had I not had to research it myself, it would truly be unbelievable. Would you tell the listeners what we're gonna talk about today?

D. Mauro (00:31.086)
Yeah, I mean, this one's really disturbing. Think about this. Imagine if nobody believed you. Nobody believed who you are. Nobody. Your bank, the police, your doctor, the hospitals, it'd be something out of an alternative universe, something like a movie in Hollywood, but something that is horribly cruel, and frankly, unbelievable. But what have I told you that it was in fact, true?

that this really happened and not just back in the 1950s and 70s, but in the past few years and culminating to a shocking end just a few weeks ago. This is a story which captures the dramatic and tragic story of William Woods, a man whose life was turned upside down by a chance encounter and a stolen identity.

His journey through false accusations, wrongful imprisonment, and eventual exoneration is a testament to resilience and the pursuit of justice. And we always like going after good, you know, Cinderella stories, right, Mark? Like something where like the pursuit of justice is bigger than the person and they fight through all these things and you're like, how do they keep going? It blows our mind. But this one's really cruel. And this one,

Mark Mosher (01:45.094)
Yep, absolutely.

D. Mauro (01:57.582)
is a really good example of what happens when we don't value our own personal privacy, right? When we don't understand that it is a fundamental human right, we have to take it seriously. Otherwise, other people are going to take it from us. This is the true cybercrime story of William Woods. And now the show.

We'll insert the intro and then we'll come back.

D. Mauro (02:34.862)
Our story begins in 1988 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Ever been there, Mark?

Mark Mosher (02:41.99)
No, never been to Albuquerque, been all over Mexico, but not New Mexico.

D. Mauro (02:46.19)
while in New Mexico is the new Mexico. It's like new and improved. It's got an American stamp on it. So William Woods, he's a young man. He's working at a hot dog cart. You ever work in a hot dog cart? Why do I think you've worked at a hot dog?

Mark Mosher (02:49.35)
It's the New Mexico.

Mark Mosher (03:02.886)
As a matter of fact, yes I have worked at a hot dog cart.

D. Mauro (03:08.302)
Was that when you lived in like the Virgin Islands? Down the islands? Yeah. Yeah, I don't doubt that. And you may, you know, working together like, yeah.

Mark Mosher (03:10.438)
That's what I lived down in the islands. Yeah, down in the Caribbean. Yep, yep, work the hot dog cart.

That's why I can sympathize so much with this story, right? This one hit really close to home.

D. Mauro (03:25.422)
this absolutely could have happened to you. So and for all I know, your name is really like Max better and not Mark Mosher. So all right, let's get back to this because it's sad story. So 1988 Albuquerque, New Mexico, William Woods, young man, he's working a hot dog cart. He's living a very simple and predictable life. He's diligent, he's unassuming, but he has no idea.

Mark Mosher (03:32.086)
Exactly.

It is, it truly is.

D. Mauro (03:54.158)
that his world is about to be turned upside down. One day, a new coworker, Matthew David Kearns, he's the bad guy in this story. He joins their hot dog cart team. They barely interact, but a brief encounter, right, will alter the course of William Woods' life forever.

One fateful day, William's wallet goes missing. And I'm sure your wallet has gone missing many times. Yes, I don't doubt that. I'm surprised you don't have a long chain tied to your tie.

Mark Mosher (04:25.318)
That happens. That's why I keep the Velcro one.

Mark Mosher (04:31.43)
Now it kept getting kept getting caught in the door. It's causing a lot of problems.

D. Mauro (04:34.862)
Yeah, exactly. You tripped over it. So William Woods is wallet goes missing. It contains a Social Security card and his birth certificate, crucial pieces of his identity. Now, this is back in 1988, people used to carry their Social Security card with them. And maybe even their birth certificate. That to me is a little, that's a bit much to have it all in your wallet, but it's in there. William confronts Matthew.

because he's like a new guy there. And he kind of saw him near where he had put his wallet for safekeeping by the hot dog cart. He and he suspects him of the theft. He eventually gets his wallet back and the documents are all there. They're seemingly untouched. But what he doesn't realize is this that Matthew David Kierans,

had written down all the information and in fact had taken the social security card and the birth certificate information. It wasn't the actual certificate. It was like a sheet with information on it. And he had taken that and made a copy of it over by a local office that they were at. That small but significant theft sets off a chain of events that leads to

decades of confusion and massive injustice, which we're going to get into. Unbeknownst to William, Matthew Kierens starts living a double life. And I'm sure you Yeah, and he's using he starts to use he's he's going about his day, right? Matthew Kierens is, but he also starts to act and use the identity of William Woods when it's convenient.

but he starts to do it more and more. He acquires a new social security card, a new driver's license, and even ultimately gets employment using William Woods's name.

Mark Mosher (06:51.142)
Mm -mm -mm.

D. Mauro (06:52.43)
Matthew becomes a high level hospital administrator over in Iowa years later, and even earns winds up earning a total of close to $1 million over $100 ,000 a year landing an IT job for a hospital, which we're going to get into very soon. And that raises a whole bunch of issues about identity protection, know your employee issues.

Mark Mosher (07:10.566)
Mm.

D. Mauro (07:20.046)
things like that for the hospital to have hired him and not have vetted this, right? All under Matthew Kieran's does that all under William Woods's name under that stolen identity. Meanwhile, the real William Woods is struggling. He winds up becoming homeless, unaware of the financial chaos building up in his name, but he soon does become aware of it. Why don't you walk us through the next part.

Mark Mosher (07:49.158)
Yeah, David, you know, according to the National Directory on Exonerations published by University of Michigan Law School, the details of this nightmare began when Matthew built up a laundry list of fraud committed by Kierans in Woods name. He even bought a car in 1991 with a check that bounced, among other checks that he bounced. Kierans ultimately drove the car to Idaho where he abandoned it.

Now, Karens withdrew the last dollar from his bank account and left Idaho. And eventually an arrest warrant was issued in Wood's name in Colorado. Now fast forward to 1994.

D. Mauro (08:32.75)
So, yeah, so, okay, so let me ask you this. So he's got a bank account, he's got checks, all in William Wood's name. He gets a car and then abandons it.

and all of this stuff and then gets in trouble in Colorado. And then an arrest warrant is issued, but he doesn't care because it's not really him. They've got his picture, they've got his arrest, right, everything else, but it says it's got his picture. It says William Woods and all of the birth certificate, all the identity, the state issued identities, all of that still say Williams, William Woods.

Mark Mosher (08:51.334)
Yep.

Mark Mosher (08:54.938)
No, because it's in Wood's name. Yeah, it's in Wood's name.

Mark Mosher (09:12.738)
out. He even goes one step further. So in 1994, Kieran's got married and the couple eventually had a child, but he bore the name of Woods. He had a kid in Woods name. Now, I mean,

D. Mauro (09:27.694)
What?

So the kid is born with the last name of the guy whose identity Matthew Kierens stole. Holy crap.

Mark Mosher (09:38.118)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, and fast forward now to, I think it was 2012, where Kearns fraudulently obtained a certified copy of a birth certificate in Wood's name from the state of Kentucky. So I said this one hits close to home, right? A year after that, Kearns, obviously known as William Woods, he began working at that hospital that you mentioned in Iowa City, Iowa.

D. Mauro (09:57.39)
Mm -hmm.

Mark Mosher (10:07.878)
And he was, he was a high level IT administrator in the hospital's IT department. The thing was though, he worked remotely at that time from his home in Wisconsin. Over a 10 year period, you had mentioned he earned almost a million dollars from the hospital, rising up to an annual salary of more than $100 ,000 a year. Now this is the same time that Woods is homeless, the real Woods. So,

Between August 2016 and May of 2022, like you said, this just culminated just very recently. Kieran's obtained several loans totaling nearly $250 ,000 from two different credit unions in Iowa. And you know what name they were under? William Woods. It wasn't Manny Kieran's, no, it was William Woods.

D. Mauro (10:55.566)
It wasn't Matthew Kieran's.

D. Mauro (11:01.134)
Wow. So let's segue. Let's take a look back at what's going on with William Woods. So mean. Yeah. So what I was able to find is meanwhile, during all this was going on, the real William Woods had fallen on hard times like we talked about. He became homeless. He discovered that somehow a mountain of debt had been accumulated in his name. This happened when he tried to borrow

Mark Mosher (11:06.95)
Yeah, yeah.

D. Mauro (11:30.222)
some money, it happened he was pawning things off at a pawn shop then went to like a fast loan place and that's where he discovered it. So on August 20 2019, Woods goes into a bank Woods is still living in Southern California and moved from New Mexico to California. So he goes into a local branch of a bank in Los Angeles. He had discovered these math massive debts.

that had been accrued in his name. And he was desperate. I mean, he was homeless, he was really struggling. And he had no money, nor did he take out these loans, but he had several hundred thousand dollars of debt in his name. And this is what happens is it not Mark, when people take your identity, this is what happens. Right. So for parents out there, this is why we always talk about how important it is to monitor

Mark Mosher (12:17.638)
yeah. Yep. Yep.

D. Mauro (12:29.422)
and freeze your children's credit while they're young. Why? Because most parents never run their kids credit reports or monitor their kids credits and their identities have been used. There's hundreds and hundreds of examples that Mark and I have come across. By the time they're 18, 19, they come out and they're ruined. And that's on us. That's on us parents. So circling back to Woods,

He's at the bank, he goes to the bank to report the identity theft and to close those fraudulent accounts. So, yep, and this was written up even in People magazine. So this story is recently broke just in the last couple of weeks. He told the assistant branch manager there at that bank in Southern California that he had recently discovered the debts in his name. He told the manager he wasn't going to pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and wanted to close.

Mark Mosher (13:06.95)
Good job.

Mark Mosher (13:28.07)
Right, it should.

D. Mauro (13:29.326)
his accounts at the bank, rightly so. It wasn't his debt. Wood said he believes somebody had stolen his identity. So by 2019, he finally becomes aware of it, right? Because it had just mounted on he had suspicions earlier on, but they just kind of came away and he hadn't traveled. He wasn't a man of many means he lived a simple life. He hadn't traveled anywhere. So he hadn't been arrested.

Mark Mosher (13:38.374)
You think?

D. Mauro (13:59.246)
and he hadn't been charged or picked up on any of those other warrants that Matthew Kierens had like in Colorado and things like that because he hadn't ever traveled there. Woods presented his Social Security card to the bank manager and also a State of California identification card, a true one. This information matched the information on the bank accounts. Why? Because Matthew Kierens had used his identity.

Mark Mosher (14:24.39)
Yeah.

D. Mauro (14:29.294)
However, when the bank manager asked a series of security questions, including details of the dates the accounts were opened and other security questions, which they use like your mother's maiden name and all this other stuff, Woods couldn't answer because they weren't his questions. They were those of the real of Matthew Kierens of the real perpetrator here.

Mark Mosher (14:43.334)
Yep.

Mark Mosher (14:48.71)
No.

Right, right.

Mark Mosher (14:57.702)
You know, David, that really gets to the heart of it right there, right? We keep using these security questions as some, you know, magical way to identify ourselves, specifically to the banks, right? But it's not a really good practice to use the same ones over and over. It leaves us vulnerable that can be manipulated just like it was here, right?

D. Mauro (15:01.038)
Mm -hmm.

D. Mauro (15:12.974)
No.

D. Mauro (15:18.574)
Yeah, absolutely. So what happened next? Walk us through it.

Mark Mosher (15:22.438)
So when the manager asked these series of questions, you know, what street did you grow up on? What was your eighth grade school mascot? Everybody knows the questions, right? But some of the details were specific to the accounts, like what date were they opened? When was the last transaction? He couldn't answer any of those. So when he fails to answer these security related questions, the bank manager noted that the customer information on the account showed that the account

owner was in Wisconsin. Yes, so he contacts the number listed on the account, right? Good move. It's Matthew Kieran's number. So Matthew's posing as William. He convinced the bank he met Kieran's is the real William Woods and claims the real William is an imposter.

D. Mauro (15:53.678)
that's where Matthew Currens was living.

Mark Mosher (16:16.55)
So he's, he's convincing the branch manager over the phone. No, I'm me. The guy standing in front of you is an imposter.

D. Mauro (16:24.174)
Yeah. And he goes, ask me a security question. I can tell you when I, I can tell you when I opened the bank accounts, I can tell you what I bought. This is me. I don't know who this guy is. And the other issue is this. Here's the other play here, right? And none of the reports that we found talked about it, but it's about bias, right? It's about human bias and confirmation bias in a sense, right? We believe the IT person,

Mark Mosher (16:28.55)
Yes, he was able to answer the questions. Yep.

Mark Mosher (16:49.702)
Yep.

D. Mauro (16:53.774)
that works at a hospital. We don't believe the guy who walks into a bank. Yeah, right.

Mark Mosher (16:58.31)
the homeless hot dog cart guy, right? So it's, so man, this poor guy. So the bank being convinced that who they spoke to on the phone was the Real Woods, turns around and calls the Los Angeles police department. They called the cops on the guy. So LAPD officers spoke with Kierans on the phone.

D. Mauro (17:14.158)
man.

Mark Mosher (17:22.246)
who stated he lived in Wisconsin and did not give anyone in California permission to access his bank accounts. He actually faxed the LAPD a series of phony identification documents. I guess this guy has no boundaries. This guy has no boundaries. Yeah. And the LAPD looked at him and turned around and arrested William Woods on two felony charges. I don't know.

D. Mauro (17:34.798)
Those are crimes in and of itself, right? That's additional crimes that he's doing.

D. Mauro (17:47.598)
my gosh.

Mark Mosher (17:50.118)
Like it went from really bad to really worse. So I said, it's almost not believable. It's not funny. It's really sad, but it's just, it's so, so bad. So William is arrested, charged with identity theft, I guess for stealing his own identity. The very crime committed against him, right? He insists he's a real William Woods. No one believes him. The...

D. Mauro (17:53.07)
That would that's horrible.

D. Mauro (18:17.358)
Ugh.

Mark Mosher (18:17.926)
The courts even label him as mentally incompetent. The cops didn't believe him, the bank manager didn't believe him. The courts don't believe him, and now they're gonna commit him to a psychiatric facility where he's forcibly medicated.

D. Mauro (18:22.094)
What?

D. Mauro (18:35.982)
Are you kidding me?

Mark Mosher (18:37.382)
That's what I said. This is almost unbelievable. But this happened to this poor guy. 575 days he's trapped in this legal and psychological nightmare and he's unable to prove his true identity. Nobody will believe the guy. So he's charged in Kieran's name held without bail at the Los Angeles County Jail. No bail, right? And he guys got no money anyways, but it doesn't, you know.

D. Mauro (19:03.982)
Unbelievable. Right.

Mark Mosher (19:07.558)
So he's in the ensuing months that come, Kierns contacted the LAPD and the LA District Attorney numerous times requesting updates on the arrest of the real William Woods and where they stood in the victim's prosecution.

D. Mauro (19:26.67)
Think of the gall here. He stole his identity. He racked up a bunch of debt, never had to pay it back. He's making, he got a good job. He's making good money, all in this guy's name. And while they're prosecuting him, he's like, you better be, well, what are you guys doing? You better be going after this guy, you know, feed him, you know, you better loop him up on more medication. He must be the real William Woods must've been so depressed, so just,

Mark Mosher (19:28.518)
I know.

D. Mauro (19:57.006)
just mind boggling bewildered about the legal system. Right? I mean, what what else happens? Walk us through it.

Mark Mosher (20:03.75)
Yeah, so even the, so the California State Court, so as he's going through, he's stuck in this appeal and proceedings and prosecution. A California state judge, he ultimately found that the real William Woods, the victim, was not mentally competent to stand trial in order him to be committed to the California mental hospital.

D. Mauro (20:31.95)
my god.

Mark Mosher (20:34.054)
And they've continued the forced medication with psychotropic drugs during his stay at the at the psych ward. Yes. Yeah. So it moved forward to I think it's around March 2021. Right. So like you said, this this comes on. Yeah.

D. Mauro (20:39.438)
my god.

D. Mauro (20:44.526)
Ugh.

D. Mauro (20:52.846)
Okay, so it winds around in the legal system. yeah, he's in that you said 575 days. So it's more than a year it's winding around to through the legal system the entire time he's in jail. And then at a mental institution and then forcibly fed psychotropic drugs. Holy crap.

Mark Mosher (20:59.718)
Yeah.

Mark Mosher (21:05.894)
Yep.

Mark Mosher (21:11.27)
Yeah. So he eventually, he pled no contest to the two felony charges in exchange for, they gave him time served sentence and immediate release from custody. So he got out, but he had to plead no contest to two felony charges. He didn't commit. So in total, the real William Woods, I think he spent a total of 428 days in the county jail and like 147 days in a mental hospital.

D. Mauro (21:24.302)
Okay.

Mark Mosher (21:41.286)
as a result of Kieran's false reports to the LAPD and the LA District Attorney. The state court also ordered the real William Woods, the victim, to use only their true name Matthew Kieran's in the future. They told me they had to use the other guy's name. Yes.

D. Mauro (21:47.854)
Unbelievable.

D. Mauro (21:59.054)
Wait a minute. So they flipped the names. So they said there's a court order that you found that says, and by the way, real William Woods, you're not allowed to use the name William Woods. You must go by Matthew Kearns moving forward. There's a court order that says that. All of this is what happens when somebody gets your identity because this literally just happened.

Mark Mosher (22:07.174)
Yep.

Mark Mosher (22:17.67)
Yes, yes, that was part of the judgment. Yeah.

Mark Mosher (22:28.294)
Yeah, yeah. So after he got released from jail and out of the hospital, the real William Woods, the victim, he made numerous attempts to regain his identity, right? To get his identity back. And for his part, Kierans continued to make false reports and statements to law enforcement officials in Wisconsin and California. He continued to do it.

D. Mauro (22:28.494)
Holy crap. Okay.

D. Mauro (22:33.934)
Ugh.

D. Mauro (22:53.934)
my god.

Mark Mosher (22:56.07)
where he's living freely maintaining his false identity, right? It's only when federal authorities in Iowa began investigating some financial irregularities at the hospital where Karen's worked that that's when the truth started to unravel.

D. Mauro (23:15.374)
see, you know, it's like all cyber crime perpetrators that we see. It's just never enough. Right? Like, yeah, I've stayed I've taken this guy's I've gotten all this money. I've got this job. I ruined this guy's life. You know, I've I've borrowed and enjoyed all these material things I didn't even have to pay for. But now I'm going to steal from the hospital to I'm going to like

move stuff around and then they start investigating the hospital and then some of the stuff starts to unravel.

Mark Mosher (23:50.214)
Yeah, yeah. So after the real woods got out, you know, the guys is broke. He's he's really down at the bottom of the barrel. He's going to a public library just to use Internet and he keeps searching, trying to find Keerans. And in January. No, it's just him in a public library. Yeah.

D. Mauro (23:58.862)
Yeah, rightly so.

D. Mauro (24:03.022)
Hmm.

So he's got no legal team. He's got no like army of investigators and legal team, right? Like I wish he would have reached out to us, honestly. We would have helped him. Right. Okay.

Mark Mosher (24:15.078)
I didn't shoot, I had done something. I got a couple of pretty good attorneys, I had to help them. So anyway, it's the real William Woods, as he's doing these internet searches in this public library in January, 2023, right, not long ago, he learns that Kearns is employed at that hospital that we mentioned in Iowa City. So he reaches out to the hospital in context, their security department about Kearns.

D. Mauro (24:20.558)
Yeah.

D. Mauro (24:36.11)
Okay.

Mark Mosher (24:43.59)
So the hospital referred the complaint to local law enforcement, which assigned an experienced detective to investigate the victim's complaint.

D. Mauro (24:54.67)
So somebody is eventually, this is January 2023. So this is just a year in a few months ago, somebody starts to take it seriously, because there's a lot of things starting a lot of dots to be connected here.

Mark Mosher (25:02.566)
Yeah.

Mark Mosher (25:09.446)
So yeah, so it just, it happened, this seasoned detective that got us just assigned this case, he conducts an investigation. And over the course of this next couple months, Kieran's identity theft scheme starts to unravel. Yeah, among other things, the detective obtained DNA evidence that conclusively proved that Kieran's was not the real William Woods.

D. Mauro (25:25.262)
Mmm.

D. Mauro (25:37.326)
fantastic. Wow. So from what I saw, Matthew David Kearns, who had been living under the stolen identity of William Donald Woods for over 30 years, he ultimately gets arrested in Heartland, Wisconsin. Yes.

Mark Mosher (25:39.014)
Yep. Yep.

Mark Mosher (25:57.638)
Thank God.

D. Mauro (25:59.534)
The arrest took place after a lengthy investigation revealed that Kierans had used the stolen identity to obtain jobs, loans and other benefits. On the day of his arrest, authorities didn't need to break down the door. Kierans didn't put up much of a fight. He was cooperative during the arrest. He wasn't at work. So they went to his home there in in Heartland, Wisconsin. And

That's where he was working remotely. He had his computer there. They seized all of that. And they also disabled the access to the University of Iowa hospitals and the clinics that he had access to there in his home in Wisconsin. The arrest followed that detailed investigation you talked about, which had been initiated by the real William Woods. And it's unbelievable.

After, you know, this case kind of came to light, it gained a lot of attention, didn't it, Mark? I mean, you know, it all kind of came about when Woods ultimately contacted the hospital himself, and he reached out to their compliance office and their security office. And that's how they turned it over ultimately to that experienced detective you mentioned.

Mark Mosher (27:03.174)
yeah, yeah.

D. Mauro (27:23.214)
the DNA evidence is really key and that DNA evidence would not have been available in the early nineties. So it was available now. So this is something like a cold case, but because of the resilience of William Woods and the, I think the fact that because David Kearns kept hounding William Woods too, it made it worse and it fed,

the persistence that William Woods had. It's absolutely unbelievable. So what ultimately happened to all of the, like the conviction, because even though he pled no contest to those felonies, he was still convicted. So he was a convicted felon after all of this.

Mark Mosher (28:09.35)
Right, right.

So this is real recent, April of 2024, just a couple of months ago.

D. Mauro (28:18.702)
So that's, yeah, it's like a month and it's like six weeks ago.

Mark Mosher (28:23.27)
Yeah, yeah, I think, yeah, it was literally like six weeks ago. A Los Angeles County Superior Court vacated his conviction back in April of this year. I was, yeah, Judge William Ryan, he acknowledged the whole thing, right? This bizarre and tragic nature of this case. And so William was finally exonerated, but the years of loss, freedom, loss of dignity.

D. Mauro (28:32.654)
Good. Excellent.

Mark Mosher (28:51.238)
the mental anguish, I mean, that can't be undone. So he returns to a world that moved on without him, kind of grappling with the scars of this and the mental anguish of this whole ordeal. And after his conviction was vacated just a couple of weeks ago, William Woods, he began, you know, trying to rebuild his life over this period, even before it was vacated. But the Los Angeles County completely dismissed it.

D. Mauro (28:51.278)
Mm -hmm.

No.

D. Mauro (29:17.326)
Good.

Mark Mosher (29:20.806)
They noticed and went on record that Matthew David Kearns had stole his identity for over 30 years and he pleaded guilty to federal charges of identity theft, making false statements. So this legal victory finally has allowed Woods to, you know, start to move on with his life now that it's finally over. And as of the research we were doing,

D. Mauro (29:47.95)
Good. Yeah, where is William Woods today?

Mark Mosher (29:51.878)
I think, well, as of a couple of weeks ago, he's in El Paso. He doesn't have, there was no reported current employer, but I was able to ascertain, yeah, he's in El Paso. There's no public record of him securing a job since his exoneration in April, but we do know he is in El Paso and wish him the best. However, he's taken steps.

D. Mauro (29:57.006)
Okay.

Mark Mosher (30:16.678)
towards seeking justice. He's trying to seek compensation for the hardship he endured. Hats off to him on that.

D. Mauro (30:22.51)
Well, he should. I mean, this is a phenomenal lawsuit because this truly, this is not like some whiplash case where you're trying to get a million bucks. This isn't an ambulance chase. This is a legit suit. This is you have a fundamental human right to your identity.

Mark Mosher (30:39.846)
Well, yeah, he's not only has intentions of filing the lawsuit against Kieran's, but he's the other parties involved with his wrongful arrest, his incarceration, his incarceration, his forced medication. Man, that's, that's just, that's not a good look. So he's planning to go after everybody on this one and his public statements very recently here indicate the desire to hold those people. He wants them held accountable.

D. Mauro (30:54.126)
my god.

Mark Mosher (31:08.774)
for the impact that they had on his life.

D. Mauro (31:09.006)
Good. Good. Well, the system failed them. The court system failed them. The medical system failed them. I mean, when he was forced to the hospital and given psychotropic drugs, you would think they would have done a DNA test or something because the whole time he's sitting there saying, this isn't me. This isn't me. This isn't me. Why would somebody not have taken a step to prove medically like the detective did?

Mark Mosher (31:24.774)
Yeah.

D. Mauro (31:38.414)
over in Iowa, right? Why would the California health care system, which was court ordered upon him, not even have done that? It raises so many questions. Unbelievable.

Mark Mosher (31:40.902)
Yep.

Mark Mosher (31:50.886)
Yeah, he's, you know, even after all this trauma, based on some of the statements he's made, you know, it sounds like he finds a sense of vindication, you know, now that his name's been cleared. And I think there's some poetic justice that he finds in the fact that it drew such significant media attention, right? The highlight, these flaws in the justice system and the impact that identity theft can have on people.

D. Mauro (32:17.198)
Absolutely.

Mark Mosher (32:18.502)
You know, and it serves as a powerful reminder. You know, we tell clients and groups we speak in front of all the time, the importance of being vigilant with your personal data and the need to protect people from these crimes.

D. Mauro (32:32.782)
Yeah, and this doesn't like you don't have to have high income and things like that to to do some of the best practices. When we think about what what people should do. Now, in this instance, this story, it was physically taken, but it's the same thing. The conversion, the theft is the same thing. By not having good cyber hygiene, this exact same thing can happen to every one of us.

Mark Mosher (32:37.926)
Yeah.

Mark Mosher (32:51.462)
digitally now, yeah. Yeah.

D. Mauro (33:00.814)
And that's the moral here. When we think about what we could have done or what should people do, we've gathered up a couple best practices. One is obviously secure personal documents, right? That's the lesson from this story. Shred sensitive documents, use a cross -cut shredder to destroy documents containing personal information like bank statements, medical records, credit card offers.

Mark Mosher (33:01.318)
Yep.

Mark Mosher (33:16.198)
Yep.

D. Mauro (33:30.734)
store them securely, keep important documents like birth certificates, social security cards, passports, tax records in a secure location, such as the locked drawer or safe. And we always talk about this, right, Mark, you've got to monitor financial activity, you've got to freeze your credit, you've got to freeze your children's credit, it's free to do. We have

Mark Mosher (33:49.062)
Absolutely, absolutely.

Mark Mosher (33:56.166)
Even if your credit score is a seven like mine, you still got to monitor it, you know?

D. Mauro (33:59.502)
Yes. Mark, Mark freezes his credit, even though nobody wants his credit. Like it is really important. You know, I'm kidding, but look, it's really important. Like everybody should freeze the credit. We have a simple, we have all the links for you to do it. There's three bureaus that you contact. The forms are linked in our take -home resources right on our website. It's right by our media kit and it's right by the public service initiative that we run.

at cybercrimejunkies .com. Go check those out. We'll show you ways to monitor all of your financial activity. Regularly check your credit reports, review your credit reports at least annually once a year. It's free to do. You get one free credit pull a year and it's not going to hurt your credit. So it won't bring you from a seven to a six mark. And to that way it ensures look, there's no unauthorized charges on there. Right?

because had he been doing this, he might've been able to find it earlier in the nineties. Set up the alerts. They enable account alerts on your bank and your credit card accounts to receive notifications of suspicious activity. Obviously we've talked about this for decades, man. Use strong passwords and multifactor authentication. Create strong passwords, right? And create more than one. Like,

years ago when you and I used to talk about this, we would be like, everybody's got to get a better password. And then we would go back and do those same sessions to some of the same people. And they'd be like, buddy, I took your advice. I got me a really strong password. I use it on everything. Yeah, not what we're saying. Yeah, not the message. Like our message hadn't resonated. You can never

Mark Mosher (35:39.206)
I use it for every website I go to. Everything I log into, I use that same password.

D. Mauro (35:56.11)
More importantly than anything else, don't reuse passwords. Use a password manager, use an algorithm. It's all in the take -home resources. Just go to the site, download it. There's no cost to any of this stuff. It's right there. We've literally put it all together for everybody.

Mark Mosher (36:10.854)
All of this that we're reviewing is right there for you to use and the links to do it.

D. Mauro (36:14.19)
Absolutely. Yep. Enable multifactor authentication. You can do that on social media, you can do that on your Gmail accounts, always verify because then there's no way for somebody to unless they use other methods, right. But it will drastically reduce the risk that you have. Be cautious with personal information. You know, we talked about this a lot.

We believe people need to grow brands and use social media. We think it's good for people individually to build a personal brand, as well as for the organizations that you serve to support those brands. But avoid sharing too much personal information on social media platforms. Information like your birthday, your address, your real phone number. You can get a free Google phone number. Put that out there. And it can be used by identity thieves. When you take pictures, right?

Don't take them off the front of your home with the address right there. I still see that all over social media. I'm like, what are you doing? Like, do you not think there are bad people in the world? Like is, is that, is it just naivete? Like don't do that. It will harm you. Be wary of phishing. Learn how to spot a fish. We have all that information in the take home guides. Secure all your digital devices. Update your software. Patch that software.

Mark Mosher (37:15.398)
Yeah.

Mark Mosher (37:35.75)
Yes.

D. Mauro (37:41.774)
That is so important when when you get it, they're like, I've got an update. I'll do it next week. No, do it now. Do it. Yeah, do it now. You know, use VPNs, things like that. Manage physical mail. One of the best practices we came across here is to use like a locked mailbox or to manage physical mail. You know, a lot of post offices have a free

Mark Mosher (37:42.15)
Yep.

Mark Mosher (37:48.454)
probably a security update. So.

D. Mauro (38:09.518)
thing in place where you can get an email ahead of time with the pictures of the mail that's coming the next day. Our post office does that. So we see we're getting this bill, we're getting this thing and this other thing and this letter from somebody, blah, blah, blah. And now we know a couple days if that's not in our mailbox, it's missing. Right? That is free. Just like get online, check that out.

Mark Mosher (38:20.454)
That's interesting.

Mark Mosher (38:34.662)
Yep.

D. Mauro (38:39.566)
And one of the key things is take immediate action if identity is compromised. Right? I mean, place fraud alerts on your accounts, especially if you have credit cards, any major credit bureaus, place fraud alerts on your credit report, which makes it harder for thieves to open accounts in your name, freeze your credit. And if it does happen, and this is all also in the take home resources, file a report, you can file an identity.

Mark Mosher (38:46.15)
Yeah, time is key.

D. Mauro (39:09.294)
theft report right with the FTC. They will take it seriously. There's links to it right there at cybercrimejunkies .com in the take home resources. You also can file with your local police department.

Mark Mosher (39:24.454)
Yeah, and it's, you know, by implementing these strategies and leveraging some of these tools and the take -home resources on the website, what it does is it significantly reduces your risk of identity or data theft. It protects your personal information from ever being misused. So please take advantage of that. And again, there is no cost. It's just on the website for you to use.

D. Mauro (39:47.918)
Yeah. So I mean, this discussion, this true crime, like it talked about kind of what can a thief do after stealing your identity today, right? I mean, it talks about how to protect your identity and your reputation online. We walk through that tragic story of William Woods and how he lost his identity and what happens and what can happen to you if you lose your identity. So we hope this was helpful to everybody.

So thanks for listening and we will see you on the next one. Say goodbye, Mark. See ya.

Mark Mosher (40:22.086)
Yep. Goodbye, Mark.




Introduction and Overview
The Beginning: William Woods' Simple Life
The Theft and Double Life of Matthew Kierens
Identity Theft and Employment at a Hospital
William Woods Discovers the Debt
Bank Account Security Questions and Bias
Forced Medication and Mental Incompetence
Introduction to the Case of William Woods
Failures of the Legal and Medical Systems
Arrest and Guilty Plea: Matthew Kearns' Identity Theft Scheme Unravels
Seeking Justice: William Woods' Lawsuit and Plans for Compensation
Best Practices for Protecting Your Identity and Personal Information