BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – An animal rescue group uncovered a virtual gold mine for identify thieves at an abandoned building in Black Rock. Piles of W-2 forms with Social Security numbers, names, and addresses were found in file cabinets and scattered on the floor of the shuttered Marlette National Corp.
The leading crime against consumers, every year, is identity theft, and the most effective tool a thief can use to steal your good name has been found to be your Social Security number. That is why the hundreds, if not, thousands of discarded documents at the old Marlette National Corp., is like a mother lode for fraudsters.
At one time as many as 200 workers kept the company on Rano St. humming along, electroplating the chrome on bumpers for classic cars and giant over-the-road trucks for about 80 years. Marlette National Corporation closed its doors in 2008, and now the building is one big eyesore.
Buffalo Common Councilmember Joseph Golombek said securing the old dilapidated factory is nearly impossible, “We board it up regularly, and the kids regularly rip down the boards and get back in there, and then we send the crew to re-board it.”
While the contents of the building have been stripped, stolen, trashed, and burned, there is still what could be considered a treasure trove of material for fraudsters inside.
When the owners closed down Marlette National, they apparently left the file cabinets behind with folders full of sensitive personal information, such as tax forms with names, addresses, and Social Security numbers.
“We don’t want something bad happening to anybody in the neighborhood, whether it is a fire, whether it is the kids getting in there and getting hurt,” said Golombek adding, “the City takes the responsibility of trying to keep the kids out, and policing it, but our hands are tied in many regards.”
Golombek said Marlette National is in City Housing Court, but it is in a legal limbo, “because one of the two owners has passed away, and the actual corporation is in Bankruptcy Court.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cleaned up the property of hazardous waste in 2010-2011, at taxpayer expense, but Golombek said he has heard there may be asbestos still inside, which is why city officials are trying to keep intruders out.
“It was secured, I believe, a week or so ago and then we got calls this week that the boards were ripped down, once again,” said Golombek. “We keep sending the crews here to board it up and the kids, or whoever, keep ripping them down.”
Golombek said a city crew is being dispatched to board up the doors at Marlette National, again, to try to secure the property from vandals. News 4 reached out to the attorneys who have represented Marlette’s owners over the years to get their take on this problem, but so far, no luck.