Chicago man gets $1K in tickets due to 'mistaken identity'

CHICAGO (WLS) -- What if you got $1,000 in tickets for a car you never owned? Investigative Reporter Jason Knowles and the ABC 7 I-Team found one man who worked tirelessly for months to clear his name. They got involved, and helped get results.

Kevin Jackson of Chicago called the I-Team after complaining to four different government agencies. Eventually the identity of a scofflaw who registered a car in his name was discovered. But the I-Team wanted to know if there is a way to protect other innocent people from going through the same ordeal.

"I got an email from my employer, the Chicago Public Schools, that said I owed $1,000 in tickets on a 2004 Volvo," said Jackson, a high school social worker. "I never owned a Volvo."

Jackson had to prove the mystery car wasn't his, because CPS garnishes wages for $950 in unpaid city tickets. Chicago Police insisted that car in question appeared to belong to him.

"Now I'm livid, I'm though the roof," Jackson said.

So he asked the Secretary of State for a copy of the car's registration form.

"The registration form only had my name and address, but the signature wasn't mine," Jackson explained. "But they had a space for the ID number."

No ID number was on the form. Also omitted was a middle name and apartment number. All of this led to a case of mistaken identity.

"What if there was a drive-by shooting or a smash and grab, then the police would have come into my house kicking in my door with full tactical gear and I have no recourse," says Jackson. "I'm like, post 9/11 how can something like this happen?"

So Jackson spoke to a Secretary of State supervisor, asking why no identification number was on the form.

"He said you don't need to ask that of people to fill out a registration form," he said.

Next, Jackson contacted the Secretary of State Inspector General who told Jackson he's had other cases just like his.

"There are no protocols and safeguards in place for something like this to happen," said Jackson.

The inspector general investigation didn't get far, so Jackson contacted the I-Team. They reached out to Secretary of State Police, who then helped Jackson start the process of clearing his name with an official letter.

"The victim and the offender had the same name and live in the same location, the same apartment complex," explained Elmer Garza, Deputy Dir, IL Secretary of State Police. "We reviewed the title history for the vehicle and determined that the signatures matched the drivers record for the other person."

But if a photo ID has to be presented, why isn't that information required on the vehicle registration form?

"We just verify that that is the person in front of us," Garza said.
The Secretary of State's office told the I-Team they would consider requiring more identifying information be put onto vehicle registration forms. That could prevent identity hassles like what Jackson went through. Jackson believes it would keep people from going through what he did.

"It took an awful lot, it was definitely a process," he said.

Because of Jackson's case, the Secretary of State's office sent a memo out to all of its offices reminding workers to check IDs of people filling out registrations.

Jackson is still not finished clearing his name. He's waiting for the city to look over that Secretary of State's letter, clearing him of the fines.

The Secretary of State's Office revoked the title of that Volvo but said it never found its real owner.
Copyright © 2019 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.