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Accused identity thief chose a bold target: former director of the NSA

When the feds raided his Austin neighborhood apartment last year, they said they found evidence Carnell King had stolen multiple people’s identities.

But among his alleged victims was one of the boldest targets of all: Gen. Keith B. Alexander, the former director of the National Security Agency.

Now King, 35, may be preparing to plead guilty in federal court after he was accused last year of using his cellphone and email addresses — including one labeled “ballin98” — to file false tax returns and open new credit cards in the name of the former NSA director.

A criminal complaint against King identifies Alexander only as a “former high ranking government official.” But a search warrant application filed by the FBI last year identifies King’s alleged victim as someone who “formerly served as Director of the National Security Agency.” And John Beal, King’s attorney, confirmed Alexander is an alleged victim in the case.

Beal’s client had been expected to enter a guilty plea Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman. But the judge scuttled the hearing after King expressed hesitation while answering questions. King is now expected to return to Gettleman’s courtroom next week.

Beal later said he’s assessing what King “actually did,” as opposed to what he’s accused of doing. King’s victims also allegedly include a “well-known professional athlete.”

“We certainly think the case is overcharged — at the very least,” Beal said.

Alexander participated in a panel on cyber security at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago earlier this year. He also told a public forum in fall 2014 that when he tried to file his taxes, he learned someone had already claimed a $9,000 refund in his name, according to news reports. He said at the time that the FBI eventually caught a suspect.

Alexander could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The feds arrested King in June 2014 after searching his home in the 5300 block of West Jackson. They said they found checks and checking account paperwork in Alexander’s name, a bank letter addressed to Alexander at King’s home, and handwritten notes filled with personal identifiers for people including Alexander. They also said they found 56 credit cards in the name of “various individuals.”

The complaint against King alleges that starting Feb. 14, 2014, Alexander began receiving mail, emails and phone calls that someone had made several attempts to open credit cards using his personal information. When he tried to file his tax returns that month, the tax software he used told him someone using his name had already filed a tax return — and was issued a refund.

He later said he received emails from his bank seeking to confirm that he wanted to change his contact information to one of King’s email addresses, as well as an address in Chicago.

The feds said they listened to recorded phone conversations with a bank in which a male identified himself with Alexander’s name. An agent later alleged that voice matched King’s.

Finally, the FBI said someone used two local ATMs, one in Oak Park and another in Cicero, to conduct transactions in Alexander’s name.

In a transcript found in one document, King allegedly told a bank representative while claiming to be Alexander that he was “in the Army” and gets “stationed everywhere.” The bank representative said, “I’d like to thank you for your service, sir,” to which King allegedly replied, “Thanks.”

The feds say King, the son of a Northwestern University police officer, tried to continue his schemes two months after his arrest, triggering the filing of a separate criminal complaint involving other victims.

If King chooses to plead guilty, authorities said in court Tuesday that it could resolve both of the cases pending against him.