(ATLANTA) — A Georgia teenager is facing felony charges after investigators say he unknowingly stole the Social Security number of a senior White House official and tried to apply for a credit card.
Austin Townsend, 17, of Douglas County is being charged with identity theft, despite reportedly not knowing who’s identity he was stealing. According to ABC News affiliate WSB-TV, federal agents would not name the victim, saying only it was a “senior-level cabinet official.” The U.S. Secret Service has declined to comment further on the matter.
“He wanted a Discover card and apparently got on the computer and started Googling different areas and ended up with a particular Social Security number,” Douglas County Chief Deputy Stan Copeland told WSB. “He was not Googling any particular person. We don’t think he had any knowledge [of who it was].”
After discovering the Social Security number did not match the name on the credit card application, a credit agency reportedly alerted the Secret Service when it realized who the number really belonged to.
“He’s not a terrorist … He was a child surfing the Internet,” Townsend’s attorney, Nicole Jones, told WSB. “He didn’t know who’s Social Security number it really was. … My fear is if that number was out there, who else’s number is on the Internet that anyone else can get to.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Tom Kludt and Jeremy Diamond, CNN
Eric Bradner, Dana Bash and MJ Lee, CNN