Skip to content

Easy peasy identity theft

by Neal O'Farrell on August 31st, 2011

I’ve always said that one of the reasons identity theft is so prolific is that it’s so easy, and just about anyone can do it. You don’t need any special skills, background, or equipment, and most of the raw materials you need to make a lot of money from identity theft are lying around you in plain sight.

Case in point is a recent guilty plea in the State of Virginia where a thief managed to make more than three quarters of a million dollars from identity theft without really stealing any information. According to prosecutors, the 26-year-old simply purchased stolen credit card information on the internet.

The source was believed to be Russian crime gangs who now openly sell all kinds of stolen information and identities in underground crime bazaars. So anyone with criminal tendencies doesn’t have to worry about learning the tricks of the trade, stealing mail or other documents, creating malware, or launching phishing attacks.

Getting into identity theft is as simple as going to one of these id loot supermarkets and purchasing your identities. A shopper can purchase thousands of identities at a time for as little as a few cents each. Costs go up the better the identities get – higher balance credit cards, more detailed personal information, and Social Security numbers always fetch more.

Once downloaded, the thief can easily set up a homemade id factory using off-the-shelf hardware and software that costs just a few hundred dollars – in many cases the software is available free of charge on the internet.

In this case, the thief was caught in possession of more than 2,300 stolen credit card accounts, as well as equipment to copy that information on to blank cards. He also had more than 400 gift cards, debit cards, and credit cards when he was arrested, and by the time he was caught he had managed to pull off more than 4,400 different fraudulent transactions at a cost of more than $770,000.

The most troubling part is that these cases are not unique, and most of the time the thieves get caught either because they get too greedy or they’re not careful enough.

From → In the Headlines