Investigators in three states are working to track perhaps thousands of Nebraskans who are illegally registering their vehicles in Iowa and South Dakota. After sending warning letters to 10,000 potential lawbreakers, the Nebraska D-M-V’s Beverly Neth says it appears there may be widespread identity theft. Neth says they’ve found vehicles are being registered across state lines with stolen or fake Social Security numbers.
"It appears as though someone else has used that Social Security number," Neth says. "The message I’m trying to relay to people is, if you haven’t contacted Iowa and you believe that you got the letter because of the Social Security number issue, then by all means, you should contact Iowa."
Many people who’ve gotten the letters say they come as a complete surprise, claiming they’re complying with the law and their vehicles are properly registered in the right state. Neth says those folks need to act — and fast.
Neth says, "Iowa has a very professional investigation arm of the D-M-V who can certainly help a person if it is an issue of identity theft." So far, about 2,500 people in Nebraska have come forward to correct their registrations, netting the state about $800,000.
Nebraska State Patrol Superintendent Bryan Tuma says the 10,000 letters ultimately served as a wake-up call for many possible crime victims. Tuma says, "Early on in the investigation after the letters went out, we began receiving a number of calls, ‘I’ve never lived in Iowa, I’ve never been to Iowa, I’ve never owned a vehicle in Iowa,’ and that’s when we began to discover that there was a discrepancy with some of the Social Security numbers."
Authorities in Nebraska say they’ve made two arrests, so far. Tuma says anyone who lives in Nebraska for more than 30 days is required to register their vehicles in that state. He says they’re still pursuing about 38-hundred people who may have broken registration laws.