CRIME
07/25/2012 04:18 pm ET | Updated Jul 26, 2012

One In Six Sex Offenders Change Names To Avoid Registration: Study

Roughly one in six sex offenders uses techniques pioneered by identity thieves to fly under the radar and avoid registering their addresses and work places, according to a new report.

From MSNBC.com:

The study, conducted by Utica College and funded by the U.S. Justice Department, estimates that roughly 92,000 of the 570,000 registered sex offenders across the country are systematically manipulating their names, birthdays, Social Security numbers and other personal identifiers so they can live as they want while appearing to satisfy court-imposed or statutory restrictions.

Once their identity is changed, a sex offender may end up living or working near children without the public being notified, the report says.

MSNBC notes a classic example of this deception in which Fran Kuni, a sex offender who changed his name to Jamie Shepard, was hired as a U.S. Census worker. A Pennsauken, N.J., mom recognized Kuni in 2010, recalling his picture from an online sex criminal registry.

"I figured this is a government worker, I'm safe," Schmalbach told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "If I had not recognized who this person was, none of my neighbors would have, and I believe he would have continued to go door to door."

Tracking sex offenders, even those who follow the law and register with authorities, is a significant expense.

In April, groups lobbying the Illinois legislature, urged lawmakers not to pass a law that would require sex offenders to register for 15 years after they're released.

Tonia Maloney, director of Illinois Voices for Reform, told the Illinois Times that the state would have to spend nearly $21 million to implement and enforce the registration requirements.

“We’re really, really broke over here," Maloney said."I think they need to look at that a little more.”

Ultimately, the bill did not pass.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly located the town of Pennsauken in Pennsylvania. It is in New Jersey.

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