Teen Accused of Stealing Identity of Senior White House Official

Jan 6, 2012 4:16pm

A Georgia teenager is facing felony charges after investigators say he unknowingly stole the Social Security number of a senior White House official and tried to apply for a credit card.

Austin Townsend, 17, of Douglas County is being charged with identity theft, despite reportedly not knowing who’s identity he was stealing. According to ABC News affiliate WSB-TV, federal agents would not name the victim, saying only it was a “senior-level cabinet official.” The U.S. Secret Service has declined to comment further on the matter.

“He wanted a Discover card and apparently got on the computer and started Googling different areas and ended up with a particular Social Security number,” Douglas County Chief Deputy Stan Copeland told WSB. “He was not Googling any particular person. We don’t think he had any knowledge [of who it was].”

After discovering the Social Security number did not match the name on the credit card application, a credit agency reportedly alerted the Secret Service when it realized who the number really belonged to.

“He’s not a terrorist … He was a child surfing the Internet,” Townsend’s attorney, Nicole Jones, told WSB. “He didn’t know who’s Social Security number it really was. … My fear is if that number was out there, who else’s number is on the Internet that anyone else can get to.”

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