Convicted ID thief found with ‘how to’ guide, DMV database

Joe V. Johansen was arrested Jan. 30 by officers with the Portland Police Bureau's Street Crimes Unit

Joe V. Johansen shown in a jail booking photo is accused of having access to an Oregon DMV database. (Photo: MCSO)
Joe V. Johansen shown in a jail booking photo is accused of having access to an Oregon DMV database. (Photo: MCSO)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) – A 38-year-old man is under investigation in what is being described as lucrative identity theft and forgery investigation, KOIN 6 News has learned.

Joe V. Johansen was arrested Jan. 30 by officers with the Portland Police Bureau’s Street Crimes Unit that operates out of East Precinct.

Johansen was arraigned Tuesday on 28 counts of aggravated identity theft and seven counts of identity theft.

Records show Johansen told court staff that he a janitor for the LGS Group.

His bail has been set at $500,000 after Portland police and deputy district attorney Todd Jackson requested his bail be increased.

In the affidavit that requested an increase for bail, Jackson wrote Portland police officers Michael Strawn and Patrick Mawdsley received a downloaded copy of a computer that Johansen admitted belonged to him.

“The computer download contained the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles list of Oregon identification numbers, as well as 13 different victims’ federal income tax forms,” Jackson wrote.

According to the indictment, 26 of the aggravated identity theft counts are for each letter of the alphabet found inside the DMV database.

Investigators found a file on the computer that was titled “Guide to making fake IDs in the Privacy of Your Own Home,” Jackson wrote. On Jan. 7, 2015, the officers received another download of a second computer that Johansen admitted belonged to him, Jackson wrote.

On that computer, officers found another guide on how to make fake identifications, as well as roughly 350 forged prescriptions, including seven different doctor’s names and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) number, Jackson wrote.

Records show Johansen is on federal probation for bank fraud. Officers used the data from his GPS device that showed Johansen was going to various pharmacies around the Portland area “with unusual frequency,” Jackson wrote.

Officers contacted the pharmacies and learned that a large number of fraudulent prescriptions had been passed, Jackson wrote. The patient and doctor names on many of the prescriptions were found on Johansen’s computer, Jackson wrote.

Video obtained by the officers showed Johansen completing multiple transactions at the pharmacies, Jackson wrote.

“The prescriptions he passed during these transactions were confirmed fraudulent,” Jackson wrote. Based on their investigation, the officers estimated that Johansen may have received up as 10,500 pills fraudulently, according to court documents. The street value of the pills could be as high as $40,000, Jackson wrote.

Jackson and the officers sought to increase Johansen’s bail from $100,000 to $500,000 because if convicted, he is facing up to 10 years in state prison and an additional four years in federal prison. “The evidence we have strongly suggests (Johansen) is making identifications and even passports to commit fraud,” Jackson wrote.

Jackson said due to the large amount of drugs that Johansen has already obtained, police believe the he likely has a large amount of financial resources. He also wrote that Johansen has been convicted two times for first-degree failure to appear.

According to court records, Johansen has a lengthy criminal record. He has a felony convictions for identity theft, attempted identity theft, first-degree forgery, felon in possession of a weapon, failure to appear, delivery of a controlled substance, unlawful supplying of contraband, first-degree theft and fraud.

DMV spokesperson David House said Thursday that the agency is aware that some of its old databases have been used by criminals for identity theft purposes. He said the agency stopped selling information to direct marketers in 2001.

House said the databases that are being used by criminals are typically very old. He acknowledged that some of that information may still be current for lifelong Oregonians who have not moved, but he stressed the data does not include any financial information or social security.

Police said the databases are being sold or exchanged on the black market for cash or drugs. It still remains a mystery how the database falls into the hands of criminals.

House said that when law enforcement notifies DMV that criminals have the database, the agency can run a test and determine where, to whom or what agency the database was originally sold. House said current database information is only given to law enforcement, government agencies and insurance companies. Those agencies are then responsible for upholding Oregon’s privacy and record disclosure laws, House said.

House said the general public should not be overly concerned about their personal data being compromised.

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