Crime & Courts

SC man stole a person’s identity, used it to get an education and job, police say

A North Charleston man got into graduate college programs and landed a job, but it wasn’t based on his own good undergraduate grades, a police affidavit says.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division charged Bill Joe Bell Jr with identity fraud after an investigation revealed the lengths he went to steal a victims college transcripts, according to a SLED report.

Around May 10, 2018, the 38-year-old man went to the College of Charleston registrar’s office and provided personal information about the victim, the SLED affidavit says. Bell asked to change some of the victim’s information in school records. In doing so, Bell obtained a unique student identification number. With that number he got the victim’s College of Charleston academic transcript and a copy of the graduate’s bachelor’s degree, according to the report.

Bell used the degree and transcript to get a into graduate programs at the Citadel and Western Governor’s University, an online college, police said. Bell also used the stolen degree to get a job a Boeing, they said.

He was booked at the Charleston Detention County Detention Center and was let out on bond, according to jail records.

Court records show that Bell declared bankruptcy in 2016.

Identity fraud in South Carolina is a felony, punishable with up to 10 years in prison, fines and restitution to the victim.

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David Travis Bland won the South Carolina Press Association’s 2017 Judson Chapman Award for community journalism. As The State’s crime, police and public safety reporter, he strives to inform communities about crimes that affect them and give deeper insight into victims, the accused and law enforcement. He studied history with a focus on the American South at the University of South Carolina.