This is dedicated to Travis Holappa who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered on July 25, 2004 in Northern Minnesota. This was all due to meth. I am Travis' mother and I wish to make this devastation turn into a better thing by educating and exposing the truth about meth, the dangers, and the deadly consequences it brings about to individuals and communities.

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Location: Colorado, United States

I want to do what I can to educate people about what is going on around the world with the meth problem. I want people to know about it BEFORE they even get the idea to want to try it. It is a dangerous drug and will ruin your life as well as all those who love you. I am on a mission on behalf of my only son, Travis.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Tuesday, 30 May 2006

Technology and Easy Credit Give Identity Thieves an Edge

In a Scottsdale police station last December, a 23-year-old methamphetamine user showed officers a new way to steal identities.

His arrest had been unremarkable. This metropolitan area, which includes Scottsdale and Phoenix, has the highest rate of identity theft complaints in the nation, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Even members of the Scottsdale police force have had their identities stolen.

But the suspect showed officers something they had not seen before. Browsing a government Web site, he pulled up a local divorce document listing the parties' names, addresses and bank account numbers, along with scans of their signatures. With a common software program and some check stationery, the document provided all he needed to print checks in his victims' names — and it was all made available, with some fanfare, by the county recorder's office. The site had thousands of them.

The data were not as rich as some found in stolen mail or trash bins. But for law enforcement officials here, this was another turn in a cat-and-mouse game in which criminals have outpaced most efforts to stop them.

"We're trying to keep up with the technology," said Lt. Craig Chrzanowski, who runs Scottsdale's property crimes division, including a computer crimes unit started two years ago. "But they're getting a lot better."

In an economy that runs increasingly on the instantaneous flow of information and credit — aggressively promoted by banks and credit card companies despite the risks — Phoenix and its surrounding area provide a window on one of the system's unintended consequences.

According to a Federal Trade Commission survey in 2003, about 10 million Americans — 1 in 30 — had their identities stolen in the previous year, with losses to the economy of $48 billion. Subsequent surveys, by Javelin Strategy and Research, a private research company, found that the number of victims had declined to nine million last year but that the losses had risen to $56.6 billion.

In Arizona, one in six adults had their identities stolen in the last five years, about twice the national rate, according to the Javelin survey.

Arizona officials have responded with a preventive mantra: shred all documents and avoid giving Social Security numbers or bank account numbers to strangers over the telephone or the Internet. The State Legislature has passed tougher penalties for people caught stealing or trafficking in stolen identities.

But the real problem, many officials and consumer advocates say, lies elsewhere. In recent years banks have campaigned energetically to extend more credit to more people with fewer hassles, and retailers and consumers have embraced instant, near-anonymous access to credit.

Last year a group of prosecutors, law enforcement officers and security executives from banks and credit card associations met to discuss ways of curbing identity theft. The group had plenty of ideas, including PIN numbers or fingerprint verification for all credit card purchases and a ban on mailings that include blank checks.

But all ran counter to the promotional campaigns of banks and, banks say, to the desires of consumers.

"There's a disconnect between corporate leadership at financial institutions and their security departments," said Brad H. Astrowsky, a former prosecutor who was part of the group. "Marketing people are ruling the day in banking. They can do things to fix the problem, but they have no incentive and motivation to do it. Preventing something from happening is a cost. What's the benefit? It's hard to quantify."

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