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Cybercrime Rampant In More Populated States

By Faye Mergel
Published: Friday, May 21st, 2010

BX-00022652-001Kenneth Swope 50 was financially crippled when his identity was stolen. “[Someone] got a hold of my social security number, and opened up a couple accounts in my name,” Swope said.

Swope said he did not know about the theft until Swope, a family man, applied for a loan for his daughter’s college fees. His credit report contained extra credit opening which he did not open and he said “I had to call the credit company to find out who opened the account, and they wouldn’t tell me. They said it was me.”

Cybercrime has seen a stiff increase from last year with an increase of over 22%. The IC3 accepts complaints from people and gives them direction based on the complaint they have. In 2009 alone there have been 336,655 complaints against cyber criminals to the IC3.

IC3’s complaint section manager, Carie Lemley said “The number of complaints IC3 receives increases each year,” with $559 million lost this year in fraud.

Brian Herrick of the FBI said that the number of users online has seen a rapid growth and in almost thrice as much as it was a decade back. “There is an increased population online, so there will be an increase in the criminal element as well,” Herrick says.

Universities have been hacked into in the past and tracing has found that the violators are in different parts of the world.

Lewis Shields also had his identity stolen. He owned a joint account with his daughter Mary Lou DiMaggio and found inconsistent reports. “It turns out it was a check they thought I had written, but it was a fraudulent signature,” DiMaggio says. The check which the company showed her was a legit check with all the right information about the account but the signature was forged. DiMaggio admitted. “I was never big on shredding or burning because I never thought it would apply to me.” Shredding important documents which are of no longer of use to a consumer prevent identity theft.

“Before I started working here [IC3] I didn’t understand the level of fraud that was out there,” says Lemley, IC3’s complaint supervisor.

“Many people don’t realize that a child’s identity can be stolen just like an adult’s,” Herrick says> There have been cases in the past where even children have had their identities stolen. Thieves use these account to prevent their true identity from being disclosed and for entertainment purposes in times of crisis, with the bad economy.

“If you steal the identity of a 21-year-old, that crime may be found out very soon, but if you steal the identity of an 8 or 9-year-old it may be years before that child’s credit report is checked,” says Herrick. He advised consumers of all ages to regularly check their credit reports and ensure they have their personal information safe.

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