A week’s worth of news reports shows law enforcement all over the country are battling identity thieves who are stealing our personal information and opening various accounts under our names or taking over existing accounts. From every corner of the U.S. from Ft Lauderdale to Anchorage and San Diego to Queens, busts are happening but more work needs to be done.
Queens NY, CBS New York reports: A South Ozone Park man who portrayed himself as a Harvard graduate with plans to open a medical facility has pleaded guilty to identity theft, the Queens District Attorney’s office announced.
San Diego CA, Imperial Beach Patch reports: Authorities said the defendants ran the ID theft and mail theft ring out of their home. Most of the personal information is believed to have come from stolen real estate files. Investigators found numerous items involved in the ID theft ring at the defendants’ home, including computers, printers, dozens of stolen credit cards and lists describing how to make counterfeit IDs.
Ft Lauderdale FL, Sun Sentential reports: The scheme unraveled after Erskine met with a confidential informant in March to discuss filing for fraudulent income tax refunds. She said Johnson could get a person’s Social Security number, date of birth, and driver’s license information for $150, according to court documents.
Anchorage AK, KTUU.com reports: An Anchorage man is facing 36 federal charges, including aggravated identity theft, in a case involving more than $150,000 in losses to individuals and businesses he allegedly defrauded. Rogers allegedly created fake documents for nearly two years, from late 2007 until mid-2009, which federal authorities say he then used to make fraudulent purchases.
- Protect themselves from account takeover by monitoring their accounts closely, protect their passwords, and refute unauthorized charges.
- Protect themselves from new account fraud by locking down their credit with a credit freeze or identity theft prevention services.
- Protect their devices with antivirus, antispyware, antiphishing and a firewall.
Identity theft will continue to plague citizens until smart systems are put in place to mitigate new account fraud and account takeover. Businesses are engaging an emerging device identification technology by Oregon-based iovation Inc. that spots cybercriminals by analyzing the reputation of computers and mobile devices used to connect to online businesses. They proactively investigate for suspicious activity and check for characteristics consistent with fraudulent users.
In one major case, iovation helped bust a fraud ring that victimized over 15 people where tens of thousands of fraudulent charges were racked up. The case started when a report of $5,000 in fraudulent credit card charges at a large electronics store and two department stores was reported. It just so happens that the credit issuer was using iovation to flag fraudulent credit card applications and tracking that back to the specific computers and mobile devices used. This information, combined with surveillance photos and other offline detective work, provided the perfect blend of digital and physical data that law enforcement needed to bust the crime ring.