Computer crime continues to shock, baffle and dismay those victimized by it while those attempting to combat the fraud marvel at the increasing inventiveness and audacity of perpetrators.
While many such crimes and scams have their origin in a simple street crime – a stolen purse or pilfered personal information – others are the result of mass hacking efforts aimed at supposedly well-protected data centers at some of the country’s largest, and supposedly most secure, corporations.
This week, a Moraga man was stunned to learn he – or actually the criminals who had accessed his personal information and used it to start a shadow business in his name – had neglected to pay $180,000 in employment taxes, leaving the unsuspecting “head of the company” holding the bag for taxes from a company he didn’t know existed while they scampered away.
Police are working that case and others.
In another unrelated instance, a Moragan obliging a request to provide information to the financial services firm responsible for his retirement account, was stunned to learn that a “limpet account,” a second account set up online and designed to siphon off future retirement benefit payments, was in place.
The scam was only headed off by an alert bank employee who questioned the origin of the secondary “bank” – and it took days to and several visits to paying agencies in order for the would-be victim to prove he was who he said he was.
Editor’s Note: NEWS24/680 would be interested in speaking with anyone who has found themselves victimized by a crime of this sort in recent months. We’d be interested in hearing how the scam worked and how you were able to detect it – or not. Contact us through the Tip Line at the top of the site.
I think I’ve mentioned this before here, but I will trot it out again. In California, you have a right to put a credit freeze on your credit accounts. When you do this, the credit reporting agencies will not provide any information about you for a new line of credit. So, if someone tries to steal your identity to take out loans and such, they would have a much more difficult time since it would be without a credit report. Financial institutions would want a credit report for a new loan. You can freeze and unfreeze your credit for a nominal cost and you are given a account at each of those credit reporting agencies to unfreeze it if you want to refi or get a new credit card or something. This probably would have helped in the first situation mentioned in the story above.