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Technology adds to prevalence of ID fraud

IMPROVED computer technology is making identity fraud a multi-million dollar concern for business and police.

The crime is committed when somebody assumes the identity of another person for fraudulent means.

According to the latest Australian Federal Police Comfraud Bulletin, officers found 22 different identities tied to the one Sydney home, while investigations in Victoria identified an organised crime syndicate involved with selling fraudulent identity kits.

AFP investigators estimate the syndicate’s activities resulted in $942,530 being defrauded from banks and $56,553 from telecommunications companies.

The AFP has set up a national fraud desk in conjunction with the Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence to help stamp out identity fraud.

In WA there have been few cases of reported identity frauds.

However, a WA Police Service operation that ended in early 2000 netted four people who collectively faced 76 charges.

The accused are alleged to have been electronically scanning legitimate documents and stealing other documents to make their frauds more believable.

In 1999, several foreign nationals faced charges relating to fraud estimated at $3 million.

There have been cases reported of the information from the magnetic strip on the back of a credit card being scanned and downloaded onto the back of a blank credit card.

With the desktop publishing and scanning technology currently available, criminals can produce good quality forgeries.

Driver’s licences, student cards and even degrees from various universities around the world of a sufficient quality to stand up to most checks can be bought over the Internet. In some cases the sellers even offer to insert holograms and embossing to better match the identity documents they are copying.

Internet shopping helps foster identity fraud because there is

often no checking of identities.

In such cases the criminals often have deliveries made to an address that is known to be vacant.

The lengths they will go to in assuming people’s identities, such as stealing junk mail from letter boxes, dumpster diving and shoulder surfing may seem extreme but they are preventable.

Dumpster diving is the practice of sifting through rubbish bins to find documents that can give a clue to a person’s identity. This often provides the identity fraudster with the initial information to start building up the fraudulent identity.

Shoulder surfing is following somebody around and eaves-dropping on their conversations to further build up the sham identity.

Major Fraud Investigation detective sergeant Mike Green said retailers needed to have systems in place to insure due diligence whenever they made a sale.

“It can be something as simple as making sure the delivery man gets a signature when delivering goods to a customer,” Det Sgt Green said.

He said about 70 per cent of the information needed to prove a person’s identification came from one Government department or another.

“People need to take care of how they dispose of personal information about themselves. Most offices have shredders and they should make use of them,” Det Sgt. Green said.

“These people start with basic information on a target and build on it. If you can prevent them from even getting the basic information it makes their job harder.

“You should always check your credit card statements to make sure unauthorised purchases aren’t being made.

“They shouldn’t respond to spam emails, especially those asking for some personal information.”

Orna APR managing director John Westall said ID fraud could be part-icularly damaging in the employment area, with people using false identities and qualifications to take jobs.

“In the medical profession there have been several recent cases of people impersonating doctors,” he said.

“Companies need to have systems in place to check people’s identities.”

Mr Westall’s company undertakes pre-employment screening and, in 42 per cent of cases, those screens turn up some form of document discrepancy.

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