Identity theft cases have definitely not gone away despite the increased media attention and consumer awareness about these problems. Instead, they are leading to more significant losses among a wider range of victims. Thankfully, law enforcement officials have been luckier when it comes to catching these thieves and bringing them to justice.
Major Bust in 2004
In 2004, a man was arrested in Boca Raton, Florida, after being connected to one of the largest documented identity theft cases in history. The man had been working with a software business that was placing internet ads for different businesses. The ads functioned as a malicious type of spyware that allowed the man and his partner in crime to steal more than 8 gigabytes of personal information from people and businesses. That theft led to more than $7 million in losses for victims.
Credit Card Numbers Stolen in 2008
Thanks to a major international effort, the U. S. government was able to uncover a huge network of stolen credit card numbers involving the computer databases of TJ Maxx and Barnes & Noble. More than 40 million credit and debit card numbers had been stolen from their databases through various means, including hacking. There is still no word on whether these stolen credit card numbers resulted in any losses to the consumers. There is no doubt, however, this entire case caused a major drop in consumer confidence.
Prior to 1998
Did you know that identity theft cases were not considered federal crimes until 1998? One of the major cases that caused a shift in the punishment of this crime involved a felon who had stolen an identity to take out a home loan. He then racked up more than $100,000 in credit card debt and even purchased hand guns using the name of the victim. The thief even had the audacity to call the victim to mock him for his loss and to let him know he was going to continue ruining his financial life.
While things have improved for the victims of identity theft cases since 1998, there is still a long way to go. As identity thieves become more knowledgeable and tech savvy, they will continually improve their tactics. As they try to find new ways to steal our identities, we must remain vigilant and smart to avoid becoming the next victim.