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April 4, 2014

Boxford police use IP address to make credit card fraud arrest

BOXFORD — When a resident told police last month he faced $7,100 in charges for a credit card he never applied for, his report could have gone down as one of the many unsolved cases of identity theft and credit card fraud on the North Shore.

Thanks to the dogged efforts of a Boxford police officer, who cracked the case through the thief’s unique computer IP address, a New Hampshire man is in jail facing fraud charges. And he could face charges for cases elsewhere, police said.

On April 1 at 6:30 a.m., Jeffrey Sek, 58, who was living at 5 Kimball Ave., Plaistow, N.H., was arrested on a warrant in New Hampshire by Boxford and Plaistow police, including a K-9 unit.

Police charged Sek with identity fraud, falsely obtaining a credit card, fraudulent use of a credit card and larceny by credit card, said Boxford Lt. Robert Hazelwood, who singled out the efforts of Patrolman Joseph Borodawka for Sek’s arrest.

“This has been very beneficial,” Hazelwood said of Borodawka’s work. “We don’t know how many victims, yet.”

Sek waived extradition, Hazelwood said, and he was arraigned Wednesday in Haverhill District Court. Judge Patricia Dowling ordered Sek held on $10,000 cash bail. Hazelwood had asked for $7,500.

It all started on March 20, when a resident came to the Boxford Police Station with a monthly statement from Capital One Credit that stated he owed $7,132 for a card he never opened, Hazelwood said.

Borodawka investigated, and he was able to obtain from the credit card company the unique IP address of the computer used to open the card. Comcast supplied Borodawka with the street address that corresponded with the IP address. It came back to a Kimball Avenue residence in Plaistow, where police later learned Sek was staying.

Borodawka was able to determine the credit card had been used at 40 locations in Essex and Middlesex counties. Police were able to obtain video surveillance of someone using the credit card at five of those locations, Hazelwood said. In the surveillance footage, the person using the credit card had a unique hairstyle and beard. Police could also identify a car used at these locations.

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