In what is considered “the largest identity theft takedown in U.S. history,” 111 individuals were indicted for “stealing the personal credit information of thousands of unwitting American and European consumers and costing individuals, financial institutions and retail businesses more than $13 million in losses over a 16-month period.”
The five different identity theft and forgery rings involved in these crimes targeted banks using a variety of techniques. From inside jobs to robberies and credit card fraud, this criminal network, based in Queens, New York but with ties to Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, was organized and profitable.
The criminals’ primary focus was on credit cards. Many of the defendants are accused of using stolen credit card numbers to purchase “tens of thousands of dollars worth of high-end electronics and expensive handbags and jewelry,” not to mention staying at five-star hotels Even after the culprits are caught and prosecuted, their victims are still faced with the difficult task of having to repair their credit ratings and financial reputations. In some cases, that process can take years.”
“Even after the culprits are caught and prosecuted, their victims are still faced with the difficult task of having to repair their credit ratings and financial reputations. In some cases, that process can take years,” explained Queens district attorney Richard Brown.
Police Commissioner Kelly commented, “These weren’t holdups at gunpoint, but the impact on victims was the same. They were robbed. We assigned detectives to financial crimes because of the potential victimization is so great, especially as the use of credit cards and their vulnerability to identity theft have grown along with the Internet.”
More financial institutions could protect their clients and themselves by incorporating device identification upfront in their fraud detection processes to keep scammers out, as the recent FFIEC guidelines suggest. Oregon-based iovation Inc. offers the world’s most advanced device identification service, which is already in use at many major financial institutions offering commercial and retail banking as well as credit issuance. The device recognition service, called ReputationManager 360, is used alongside other risk-based authentication tools for a layered defense against organized crime.