Police today busted up the largest identify theft crime ring in U.S. history. It involved 111 people operating in multiple corners of the world, including the U.S., eastern Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. The $13 million operation? Buying and selling Apple products worldwide.
How to Set Up an Identity Theft Crime Ring: Four Easy Steps
The "Operation Swiper" identity theft crime ring worked by hiring "shoppers" to fraudulently buy retail products and sell them overseas. Here's how they did it:
1. Crime ring bosses got blank credit cards.
2. The bosses hired "skimmers" to get jobs as waiters and retail employees. During customer transactions, they would steal the information from credit cards and send it to programmers who would then put the information on the already-purchased blank credit cards.
3. The crime ring would get forged drivers' licenses to match the information on the stolen credit cards.
4. "Shoppers" went to retail establishments like Macy's and Best Buy to purchase items for resell overseas.
Because of Apple's popularity, the crime ring focused on buying and selling Apple products. The Apple computers, iPhones, iPods and tablets are in high demand with a big ticket mark up.
Identity Theft Bust
111 people from the crime ring have been indicted, and 86 are currently in custody. The other 25 criminals are being hunted by police.
American credit card companies are being criticized because it's relatively easier to create a fake credit card in the U.S. than it is in Europe. In Europe, credit cards contain microchips that have to be identified when a cashier runs the card through the machine. Without the chip, the transaction wouldn't be approved. If U.S. companies had adopted this technology, much if not all the millions of dollars of fraudulent transactions could have been avoided. With the high cost fighting fraud after the fact, let's hope that U.S. credit card companies take notice and evolve to the European credit card standards.