GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With his picture photoshopped on to a fake Ohio driver’s license, Richard Heath walked into Flagstar Bank’s Cascade Road branch and walked out with $7,000 cash and a cashier’s check for $5,000, the money drawn from someone else’s account.

That was March 22. The next day, he showed up at another Flagstar branch on 28th Street in Kentwood and tried to cash the cashier’s check. Bank security was on to him. A teller hit the silent alarm.

Kentwood police showed up and arrested Heath. They found faked driver licenses with the names of two other men from out of state in his possession.

He reached a deal with prosecutor to plead guilty and make restitution.

In a Grand Rapids courtroom Monday for sentencing, Heath apologized.

“I’d like to apologize for what I did. I will pay back 100%,” the 34-year-old defendant from suburban Chicago told the judge when given the chance to speak.

Heath was sentenced to time served and 36 months’ probation.

Unfortunately, he’s a small fish in a big pond. According to the National Council on Identity Theft Protection, 33% of Americans will face some kind of Identity theft at some point in their lives. That’s three times higher than people in other countries. Experts believe the figure could go up this year.

It’s not clear how Heath got the names for his fake IDs.

But one thing is clear: Identity theft professionals are constantly changing the rules to stay ahead of victims and police. So you need to stay ahead of their schemes by safeguarding your personal information.

“That’s our Social Security number, that’s our driver’s license number,” Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan spokeswoman Katie Grevious listed. “It could even be logins to important sites, like your bank account, things like that. Once we lose those sensitive personal information pieces, we don’t get them back.”

The people out to steal your identity are patient and persistent.

“This is not a quick 20 seconds, click on a link, lose your information. This is maybe drawn out over weeks, months, sometimes years to gain their victim’s trust,” Grevious said.

Just like using a keyboard to get at your information, they know how to get to you in a more personal way.

“They’re not only looking for your information, but they are looking to target you in an emotional sense, as well. So they’re not only going after money, information, access points. They’re trying to get you to feel something,” Grevious said.

If you think you’re a victim of ID theft, the BBB advises you to:

  • Change your username and passwords.
  • Contact the companies tied to accounts.
  • Put a freeze on your credit.
  • Contact Social Security and the Secretary of State.

“Follow with your head, not your heart,” Grevious said. “Do your homework. “

The federal government provides an online guide at for those who think they’ve been a victim of identity theft.