First they were victims of the condominium collapse in South Florida. Now, they’re victims of identity theft.
Several of the people who died in the June 24 collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside have been targeted by thieves who have ransacked bank accounts and opened credit cards in their names.
The account of Gladys and Antonio Lozano, married nearly 59 years and found in their bed together, was compromised by a hacker the day of their funeral, their son Sergio Lozano told WSVN News. The crooks filled out a change of address form and created online banking for his parents’ account, then withdrew money via Zelle.
“I find it totally devastating, after losing my parents, that I have to deal with all the estate issues, and now I’m having to deal with somebody stealing from my parents,” he said. “After they’re dead and buried, they’re stealing from them?”
“It’s just wrong, just wrong,” said Lozano. “How many people have perished in that building, and how many people have had their money stolen while they’re dead in the rubble, which is not right? You should get arrested, and you should go to jail.”
Miami-Dade Police are investigating this and several other cases.
“It’s the revictimization of the victims that we’re sort of starting to experience right now with these hackers,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told NBC’s Miami affiliate.
“They’ve seen the names in the paper, they’re going right to that and we’ve had to have discussions with the families and listen to them telling us the stories about all of a sudden credit cards appearing in their names and things being purchased in their name, so we’ve told ‘em, you’ve got to immediately shut down your credit.
“We’ve seen multiple cases already,” Burkett said.
Joe Murphy, who lost his close friend and colleague, Brooklyn native Estelle Hedaya, told the station he was shaking with disgust and outrage.
“All I can say is how low can you go?” Murphy said, shaking his head. “Here we are setting up a fund in her name for St. Jude’s Hospital, doing something right, that’s the way things should be done, not this crap.”
No arrests have yet been made.
“It’s terrible,” Burkett told Local 10 News. “I can’t wait to put a face to these deeds right now, and I think all of South Florida is eager to see who would do something like this – what kind of person would do something like this. But I’m looking forward to our police department apprehending them, and they are out there looking. I wouldn’t want to be that person right now.”