‘Food porn’ Instagram photo of fancy steak/mac and cheese dinner leads IRS to identity thieves

'Food porn' Instagram photo of fancy steak/mac&cheese dinner leads IRS to identity thieves

Instagram shot courtesy of Sun SentinelNote the macaroni and cheese in the background – so creamy! Really, it’s a delightful side dish for that nice, juicy steak.

Truly, food porn pictures on Instagram are a banquet for the eyeballs.

But this particular steak/mac and cheese shot got two US identity thieves in South Florida in trouble, way beyond indigestion.

Nathaniel Troy Maye, 44, of Harlem, N.Y., and Tiwanna Tenise Thomason, 39, of Miramar, Florida, are facing up to 12 years in federal prison and stiff fines after pleading guilty in federal court on Friday to aggravated identity theft and possession of unauthorized access devices, according to the Florida publication Sun Sentinel.

It was the posting of a dinner photo that eventually led law enforcement to Maye.

The identity thief came to the attention of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) after having bragged that he had 700,000 stolen identities up for sale.

The IRS had little to go on, but they did have a witness who acted as an undercover agent.

After meeting Maye at a Fort Lauderdale restaurant on 5 January, the witness told the IRS that the thief went by the name “Troy,” was dating Thomason, and was from Harlem.

On 7 January, the witness met the couple at a “swanky” steakhouse – Morton’s – so they could hand over a flash drive containing 50,000 identities that they thought could be used to file fraudulent income tax returns, according to the Sun Sentinel.

USB in hand. Image from ShutterstockThe drive had, actually, only a nibble’s worth, with 50 stolen identities.

But IRS agents did find hidden data that linked the drive to the name Troy Maye.

IRS special agent Louis Babino found a profile for “TROYMAYE” on Instagram, along with a photo of a steak and macaroni and cheese meal containing the caption “Morton’s” that coincided with the second meeting between the witness and the couple.

Babino also found an Instagram profile photo of Maye, whom the witness confirmed was the same guy who gave him the drive and promised to hand over the other 49,500 identities in exchange for payment after fraudulent tax returns were filed in victims’ names.

IRS agents arrested Maye and Thomason at her apartment. They uncovered two flash drives containing as many as 55,000 stolen identities.

I feel that there’s some connection to be made here between this case and that of the phishers who spent a woman’s life savings on, among other things, cheeseburgers, but I just can’t put my finger on what it is.

Stick to kale. Don’t eat the meat, the bun or the macaroni. Also, avoid stealing people’s identities.

All that might spare you a life of crime.


Image of steak dinner and USB in hand courtesy of Sun Sentinel and Shutterstock respectively.