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Derek Denesevich has become the face of identity theft, but when he was charged earlier this year with filing more than 80 fraudulent tax returns, it wasn’t his crimes that caught people’s attention. It was his face.

During the past several months, Denesevich’s mugshot made the Internet rounds, calling attention not only to his role in an identity theft ring in Florida but also to his eclectic collection of facial tattoos. The logo of luxury car brand Bentley is the main tattoo focal point, placed on his forehead.

It may be his claim to fame, but Denesevich seems to be putting his face tattoos behind him, the Florida Sun-Sentinel reported. He turned himself into the police and worked with the FBI to help them nab six members of the identity theft operation, which involved stealing and selling more than 1,200 identities.

derek denesevichIn 2011 and 2012, Denesevich paid a court clerk to steal drivers’ identities from a state database, and he used the information to file more than 80 false tax returns, resulting in more than $57,000 of fraudulent refunds. At his sentencing Oct. 24, he said he has since worked to turn his life around, spurred by the birth of his son in 2012, the Sentinel-Sun reported, and his work with the FBI also helped him receive a reduced sentence of 15 months in prison, plus restitution. He faced 4 1/2 years in prison, per sentencing guidelines.

Part of Denesevich’s effort to reinvent himself involves seeing a plastic surgeon for tattoo removal, the Sun-Sentinel reported. (His love for Bentley will endure — it’s his son’s middle name, and he apparently has a portrait of his face, including the forehead art, tattooed on his back.)

Denesevich’s notable mugshot makes this incident more interesting than most cases of identity theft, since many wonder how someone with such a memorable face could impersonate someone else. But identity theft is a common crime that doesn’t require in-person fraud — anyone with your identifying information can do damage. Many people have jobs that give them access to sensitive data, and you never know if someone with your personal information will break the law and use it.

Identity theft can be difficult to prevent, and that’s why it’s important to monitor your credit and act quickly if you realize you’re a victim of identity theft. One way to detect identity theft is to watch your credit scores for sudden drops, which you can do for free on Credit.com, and check your credit reports for unauthorized accounts. You can get your credit reports for free every year at AnnualCreditReport.com.

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Main image: iStock ; Inset image courtesy of Broward Sheriff’s Office

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