Nathaniel Troy Maye and Tiwanna Tenise Thomason stole thousands of identities. And they might have gotten away with it, had it not been for a Morton's steak with macaroni and cheese, a meal so perfect and delectable it just had to be photographed and turned into food porn. It just had to be uploaded to Maye's Instagram account, uploaded with the perfect caption: "Morton's."
They must have known the risks. Smartphone users across the nation have noted the chilling effects of restaurant crackdowns on food photography. But for these Instagrammers, the consequences were much greater.
For IRS agents had already been tracking the Bonnie and Clyde of identity theft. They came up on the IRS radar after the couple met an informant at — no joke — YOLO Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. Maye told the informant his name was Troy and that he had stolen 700,000 identities, but the IRS could not yet crack the thief of identities' identity.
So two days later, the informant arranged to meet with the couple at Morton's to discuss exciting new identity theft innovations. Specifically, the couple brought a flash drive of identities to use to file fradulent income tax returns. IRS agents found hidden data on the drive linking it to a "Troy Maye."
As part of a thorough investigation, a special agent went on Google and immediately found Maye's Instagram profile. Maye's public Instagram profile. Maye's public Instagram profile with a photograph of the dinner he ate with an IRS informant, captioned "Morton's." Just to be sure, agents had the informant positively identify another photo of Maye from his own Instagram.
The IRS arrested the couple and found around 55,000 identities on flash drives in Thomason's home. And, in a judicial first, the Instagram photograph was cited as evidence in the federal felony complaint. The couple pleaded guilty Friday to aggravated identity theft and possession of unathorized access devices. They face up to 12 years in federal prison.