Dateline NBC aired a report on Tuesday, April 3, to catch an ID thief
This in-depth article goes into the details of how the Internet is used by thieves around the world. The crime is International in scope and is very difficult to track down the actual thieves. There are online chat rooms where stolen credit card information, bank account passwords, and personal information is sold for as little as $5.00 dollars apiece. Once the information is bought, the use of the information occurs in just a few minutes online.
Dateline did an investigation using bait cards provided by credit card companies and placing the card information for sale on underground chat rooms. The bait is taken in minutes. Then, the credit card monitoring firm shows actual charges with in minutes of the card information being sold. The thieves start out by seeing if the card will go through for a small charge donation at a charity. Once this is accomplished, then just a few minutes later the card is used at various places around the country with the $1000.00 limit maxed out in no time. Other cards were also used and maxed out around the globe in minutes and seconds.
This form of ID theft is estimated to cost the US economy to the tune of $5 billion dollars a year.
The surprising aspect of this crime is that it is being orchestrated by individuals or groups from outside the United States. This makes it extremely difficult to prosecute, let alone track down the thieves.
The thieves prey on single moms and people looking for love in all the wrong places. Many of the men and women become unsuspecting accomplices and are thinking that they are helping their future spouse set up a business in another country. These men and women seem to have fallen for the love connection. They collect the products that are shipped to them, and then re-ship the products to other countries including: Africa, Australia, and others. With the promise of love, these men and women are many times using their own money to ship the products out of the United States. The reason for the middle man operation is because many of the companies refuse to ship their products overseas.
Dateline was able to track down some of the places being shipped to in Africa. However, this did little in the way of being able to stop the thievery. Once the final destination drop spots were discovered, the authorities did nothing to shut down or prosecute the perpetrators. Many times the perpetrators would use an Internet Cafe in a downtown Africa nation and simply do their buying, selling, and communications online with their middle men right there.
So, what’s the answer for this global crime? Many countries don’t have any laws on the books to stop it, and the thieves know it. The International criminals take the attitude of so what if they are stealing, they know nothing will happen to them. The world lives in an ethical vacuum today.
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