Personal documents dumped on street

June 23, 2009 7:09:50 AM PDT
Hundreds of personal documents, including ones with social security numbers, were found dumped on a street in Brooklyn. So who put them there for everyone to see? It's an Eyewitness News exclusive.

The documents belonged to a lawyer who moved out of his office. So his landlord apparently decided to get rid of the papers, which also included confidential information about clients.

They were found on Atlantic Boulevard in the Boerum Hill section.

Emily Walters' past medical problems, social security number and how much she received from a court settlement was all readily available in her file, along with more than 200 others sitting in unsecured boxes on Atlantic Avenue for the world to see.

Eyewitness News reporter Kemberly Richardson: "What did you think happened to your file after the case has closed?"
Walters: "I thought they were discarded."

Nat Hendricks found the files early Sunday morning while walking his dogs. The two large boxes were stacked outside of a vacant law office.

"The first one, I saw a person's name and address and date of birth, social security number and I closed the file," Hendricks said.

And then, he called Eyewitness News.

In the boxes were endless pages of confidential information about clients and details about their lawsuits. They all seem to date back to the late 1990s. Still, Eyewitness News was able to track down three people using their own information. And one name kept popping up, Neda Imasuen, the attorney who handled all of these cases.

"There's doctors' signatures, people's signatures, everything, it's outrageous," Imasuen said.

His registration status in New York is delinquent. So how did the boxes end up on the street? That question is something the Attorney General's office is also now reviewing.

The landlord of the building admitted he put them outside Saturday. He says he had made arrangements for pick up on Sunday.

Still, Tim Mohr, who specializes in identity theft, points out that if the documents had fallen in the wrong hands, it would have been a gold mine.

"You can take one of the many credit card applications that come about, fill that out, mail it in and become that individual," he said.

According to rules of conduct, attorneys are obligated to properly dispose of clients files. Experts say shredding is the best way.

"Ask them how they're going to dispose of it at the end," Mohr said. "Or ask if maybe those files can come back to you."

The landlord is also facing possible fines.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


NEW YORK AND TRI-STATE AREA NEWS

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