Today’s Washington Post contains an interesting article about identity theft. Some identity thieves enlist unwitting employees of financial institutions into supplying them with personal information:
An identity-theft ringleader, also known as the “concierge,” recruits an “insider” to steal personal information from work, data that can be used to make bogus credit cards with real names and account numbers.
Often the “insider” is a lonely woman who falls in love with the concierge after he sidles up to her in a bar, orders her a drink, and discovers that she works for a bank or insurance company — at which point he escalates his wooing. After a while, he persuades her to leak him some customer data because he’s “short on cash.” . . .
The concierge then turns that information into cash using various schemes. One involves giving the customer names and numbers to someone who uses machinery in his basement to churn out phony credit cards and IDs — documents that might not fool a cop but do get past many store clerks. Or the ringleader may use the information to open new credit accounts in the names of unsuspecting victims.
Next, he rents a van in someone else’s name, rounds up a bunch of drug addicts, and gives each a bogus credit card and a shopping list, Goldberg said. Dumped at a suburban mall, they make their purchases and return with hot merchandise.
Then they are driven to another mall in a nearby county, where they are sent shopping again. Purchases are kept under $200 and repeated in different counties to keep the dollar value of individual merchant losses below the radar of police agencies. . . .
Another interesting part of the article discusses how drug dealers are increasingly turning to identity theft:
“What I am finding is these people are in fact retired drug dealers who are sick of getting shot at and arrested,” [Richard] Goldberg [a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania] said at the summit, which drew thousands of security professionals to Washington for four days.
These days, identity theft is almost as lucrative as drug dealing — but safer.
A stolen credit card number can sell for $100 to $1,000 on the black market, Goldberg said, depending on whether it includes the expiration date and other security codes, plus background on its owner.
Perhaps we should be pleased that the federal government is inept at addressing the identity theft problem . . . finally, a way to get drug dealers off the streets. . . .
Originally Posted at Concurring Opinions
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This post was authored by Professor Daniel J. Solove, who through TeachPrivacy develops computer-based privacy training, data security training, HIPAA training, and many other forms of awareness training on privacy and security topics. Professor Solove also posts at his blog at LinkedIn. His blog has more than 1 million followers.