Elwin case prompts ID theft legislation

The case of a murdered Kaua‘i resident whose identity, money and land was allegedly stolen by a trusted friend nearly a year ago has prompted legislators to augment paper trails.

The resolution was inspired by the tragedy surrounding John Elwin, a 30-year Kaua‘i resident who was murdered in the Philippines in May after land he owned had been transferred into the name of Henry Calucag.

Representatives heard emotional testimony yesterday from Kirsten Flood, Elwin’s girlfriend. Flood offered compelling reasons for notarized documents to include an embossed seal where the description of what took place is inscribed.

Calucag, also known as Hank Jacinto, traveled with Elwin to the Philippines. He has since been charged with first-degree identity theft, fraud and forgery. Just who made the name transfer is unclear, however, the notary who witnessed a transaction between the men said it was a transfer of title for a car, not Elwin’s land.

Rep. James Tokioka, D-Wailua, Koloa, said the resolution is aimed at protecting Hawai‘i residents — in a state with the sixth-highest incidence of identity theft — from becoming targets for identity thieves.

Tokioka said Luis Soltren, a long-time friend of Elwin’s, has been working to get the measure put in place to help prevent thieves from committing the same crime.

“Because of Soltren’s work of trying to help the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and the Kaua‘i Police Department, he’s helped show how potentially some of this could be minimized in the future,” Tokioka said, noting his concern that the elderly could be targeted.

HCR 247/HR 198 asks the Attorney General’s Office and Identity Theft Task Force to report findings and recommendations on how to prevent cases like Elwin’s from happening in the future.

Soltren said he was grateful that Tokioka took a “step in the right direction. It is because of John that we’ve moved into action … It’s terrible that we’re one of the smallest populations but we’ve got such a high rate of identity theft.”

The resolution was heard in a joint committee yesterday and is slated to go to the House Judiciary committee next, Tokioka said.

Jacinto’s trial begins May 14.

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