In an indictment that reads like an instruction manual for nearly every type of identity theft and credit card fraud yet invented, prosecutors alleged that more than a dozen crooks ran roughshod over America’s credit system for six years, stealing hundreds of millions of dollars and living like kings.
The techniques deployed by the crime ring ran the gamut, from child ID theft to setting up fake stores to process credit card payments.
It alleges that suspects created so-called “synthetic identities,” in which invented Social Security numbers were used to create fake credit reports that enabled them to borrow huge sums; faked utility payment histories to fool credit bureaus; designated themselves as “authorized users” of real victim’s identities; and minted real and fake merchant credit card processing accounts to trick banks into depositing large sums of cash into bank accounts they controlled.
With the proceeds of the scheme, they bought luxury cars, electronics, spa treatments, and millions of dollars in gold.
There’s a lesson in these allegations for victims of credit card account number theft–smart criminals don’t commit fraud immediately after stealing account numbers.
If your account number is compromised, don’t believe you are in the clear just because there’s no fraud in the first few months.
Story by Bob Sullivan for NBC News.
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