Man Convicted Of Spending $3.2M In 3 Months Using Photocopied ID & SSN

According to 9 News in Denver, James Hartman was convicted and sentenced to 8 years in prison for spending $3.2 million on vehicles and land using his brother’s photocopied driver’s license and social security number. Investigators are still trying to understand how this man could do so much spending damage with virtually zero credentials. Details, inside…

From May through July, 2006, Hartman went on a spending spree with a shopping list that included:

  • 1 Pickup truck for $48,000 on June 5th

  • 1 Pickup truck for $49,000 on June 10th
  • 2 Dodge Durangos for $77,000 on June 14th
  • 1 Dodge Viper for $94,000 on June 24th

Additionally, Hartman signed agreements to buy 2 ATV’s, an RV, 2 houses and mountain property which came to $3.2 million. “Did I go overboard in buying a few vehicles. Probably did,” Hartman said from the Jefferson County Jail. “But it wasn’t identity theft. My brother approved of all of it. I didn’t have the credit. He did. So we used his driver’s license and Social Security number to make the purchases.” Yeah, right.

Hartman’s brother Ed was unaware of any of the purchases until he received a call from a suspicious employee at the ATV dealer. She asked for the original driver’s license and when Hartman couldn’t produce it she called the cops and he was arrested. Ultimately, all the purchased vehicles were recovered.

We’re amazed to see how much damage can be done with a mere social security number and photocopied driver’s license. It underscores the importance of keeping your identification safe and your SSN private. It seems like common sense that businesses should require an original, non-photocopied piece of identification, especially for extravagant items. Apparently, these businesses were too eager to make the big sale to consider such trivialities.

Convicted felon spent $3.2 million in 3 months [9 News] (Thanks Naughtyconsumer!)
(Photo: 9 News)


Edit Your Comment

  1. HIV 2 Elway says:

    At least he’s stimulating the economy.

  2. Tank says:

    there are new laws in place that should prevent this type of fraudulent activity at auto dealers. it’s called “red flag rules”, went into effect on Jan 1 2008, and will be enforced on 11/1/2008. now let’s all hope the dealerships do what they’re supposed to.

  3. ratnerstar says:

    Worse yet, when he attempted the leave the dealership with his new Dodge Viper, a security guard asked to see his receipt!

  4. Elvisisdead says:

    Dude just looks like a miscreant.

  5. blackmage439 says:

    I didn’t know it was legal to purchase a vehicle without a VALID (see: non-copied) driver’s license…

  6. Sideonecincy says:

    Real question is, why purchase 5 Dodge cars?

    I’m surprised Dodge didn’t question him after the 2nd car. There goes that sales guy’s commission.

    His brother must have HAD very good credit.

  7. christoj879 says:

    @ratnerstar: And even worse, he was on his way home from the ATV dealership to write to the Consumerist about it but got arrested!

  8. chrisjames says:

    What exactly do they do when they check your credit to offer a loan or line of credit?

    I mean, he makes a $50,000 purchase one day. Five days later he makes another $50,000 purchase, okay not so bad. Then $77,000 four days later. That isn’t suspicious? By that last purchase, I would have put all suspicion behind me and said, “Look, you already have $174,000 in car loans from the last three weeks alone. Maybe you want to buy these cars legitimately, but I just don’t think you’ll be able to add on this $100,000 purchase and pay me back.” He then continues to rack up $3 million more without question.

    Good grief. How can you blame either of the brothers when lenders are doing this?

  9. Murph1908 says:

    3 million in ninety days? Amateur.

    -Monty Brewster

  10. Sideonecincy says:


    “Good grief. How can you blame either of the brothers when lenders are doing this? “

    I agree with the rest of the post above this comment, but I think we can place a large amount of the blame on the genius who decided to do this. Also, what sort of person steals a blood relatives identity? Not that I am saying its ok to steal identity from someone you don’t know.

  11. ecwis says:

    Am I the only one who thinks he shouldn’t be in prison for 8 years?

  12. ionerox says:

    @HIV 2 Elway: Er, was stimulating the economy. Temporarily. I’d feel bad for the dealerships ending up out the money and stuck with the used cars- but they’re the dumbasses who sold cars to this doof in the first place.

  13. Landru says:

    @chrisjames: I think this illustrates what went wrong with the whole sub-prime mortgage thing. There is no incentive for the people who write the loan paperwork to make sure the loan is ultimately paid. They get their commissions and money upfront when the deal is closed; who cares if the guy makes his payments?

  14. midwestkel says:

    I wish my credit was that good.

    Also I just bought a car and I had to show proof of work (pay stubs). I know you can easily fake ones but what did he put on for his mothly income, $25,000?

  15. heavylee-again says:

    @chrisjames: I don’t think loans that new (i.e. only a few days old) show up on a person’s credit report that fast. I think it takes a least a month for the credit reporting bureau to receive information from the lender about the loan and the payment history.

  16. HIV 2 Elway says:

    @ionerox: Or the salesmen who spent their commissions already.

  17. Trai_Dep says:

    Tsk. All that stolen money and he buys American cars? SUVs? Trucks?
    Think he needs another brother, just for the gasoline.

  18. heavylee-again says:

    I think the dealerships/salespeople should be held financially and negligently liable for any financial hardships the brother incurs as a result of them accepting photocopied documents for purchases that large.

  19. legotech says:

    I always love it when criminals are this dumb….when I was a 9-1-1 Dispatcher we had a cop radio in for a license check…the guy didn’t have his on him and the cop asked for his SSN to get his license info. His license was expired, so he gave us his cousin’s SSN. His cousin had an outstanding arrest warrant….

  20. This happened to my Father back in the late 1970s

    His name broke down to the initials D. L. LastName. He hated his first name, and so signed everything D.L.LastName.

    His sisters names also broke down to D.L.LastName.

    Sister did dads taxes for several years while she stayed with us. Sister then went out and spent hundreds of thousands on cars, property, and whatever.

    In the late 80’s my dad went to buy his first “new” car. They said he didn’t have “no credit” as he claimed. He had “The worst credit report that I have ever seen” according to the sales guy. My dad took one look and cried.

    It took my dad well into the 90’s to get everything cleaned up. My Aunt never saw jail time, and never paid anything back.

    I learned about identity theft before there was a name for it.

  21. Juggernaut says:

    @heavylee-again: Absolutely right. Credit reports show a history of payments on purchases…

  22. Juggernaut says:

    Credit reports show a history of payments to creditors…


  23. rmz says:

    He at least could have bought cars that were worth buying.

    /sarcasm off

  24. sprocket79 says:

    @TakingItSeriously: Same thing happened to one of my best friends. Her father was a total deadbeat dad, and one of her brothers is a “Jr.” so you can see where this is going. The dad stole the son’s identity and tried to steal one of his daughter’s. So now my friend has to religiously check her credit report to make sure he didn’t do something to her.

  25. DeeJayQueue says:

    it’s actually not that hard to buy cars and things with little to no paperwork on you. The dealerships are so eager to make a sale right that very second because they’re afraid you’ll get cold feet if you leave, that they’ll pretty much do anything to close the deal. This includes saying things like “Oh it’s ok we’ll get all the paperwork finished and ironed out later, for now we just need you to sign here, and here and here.” Plus it takes a while for the credit agencies to report that you’ve just added a significant debt.

    Case in point: A few years ago my ex and I went to look for a new car, planning to trade his current car in. He was about 9000 upside down on the car. They couldn’t take all that negative equity and shove it into a new car note, but they’d gotten more than one pre-approval from the bank. So since I needed a car too (Mine had recently been stolen and I was driving a loaner) we bought 2 new cars on his name. Granted this was a dumb idea because we both overpaid by 4500 for each car, and we had payments that were stupidly high for the types of cars we had, but we were young and dumb.

    Fast forward a few years and now I’m going to buy my first new car in my name ever. Everything went well, but it was stressful. My insurance agent stayed an hour late in her office to make sure I had paperwork faxed over, the bank stayed open late to approve my loan, and the dealer stayed late so that we could drive to my sister’s house so she could cosign for me. All of this could have been done the next day, but they wanted to make completely sure that the deal was done right then and there.

    So, it’s pretty easy to take advantage of this kind of situation if you just say things like “Oh I don’t have my actual license here, I’ll get it for you tomorrow.” They’ll take a copy and use it, based on the faith that you’ll actually come back with the real one.

    So if we’re wondering how many times someone could get away with that kind of nonsense, the answer is “That many times.”

  26. TPS Reporter says:

    The first time I checked my credit when I was about 22 or so I had a Sears card on my report opened up in 1976. I was 6 years old in 76. But I am a JR, so I don’t know if it was a mistake or what. It showed up as paid as agreed though.

  27. chrisjames says:

    @Sideonecincy: Sorry, you’re right. I was just making a comparison between the theft and the negligence and what’s hurting on a larger scale, but it came out as a comparison of guilt in this circumstance.

  28. aikoto says:

    If he’d had a credit freeze, this wouldn’t have happened.

    For the pic only:


  29. Lucky225 says:

    Hells yea, if the account is closed and is ‘paid as agreed’, no need disputing it :P

  30. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    First of all, here we have cashiers in places like Shopko (I think it was) and IHOP DEMANDING to see real state-issued photo ID for a ~$50 tab, yet you drop close to 100 large on a car and the dealer doesn’t give a shit? Can somebody please tell me what is wrong with this picture? If it weren’t for my horse…

    Second, if this guy was so good at using his brother’s money, how come he isn’t sitting on some tropical non-extraditing island right now with a huge chunk of that $3.4M in his pocket?!?“…I wouldn’t have spent that year in college.”

    I don’t know who is dumber here, the car dealer or the perp.

  31. The_Legend says:

    At least he liked Chrysler products.