The annual National Identity Crime Symposium is being held this week in Brisbane, Australia. The symposium heard evidence of some drug addicts stealing people's identities and selling them to make money.
Identity crime has been extensively reported as the fastest growing crime type globally, costing the Australian economy somewhere between $1.6B and $3B per annum. Identities are now a criminal commodity and there is not a business, organisation or individual that is not potentially vulnerable to some form of exploitation.
Criminals are now harvesting identity data and building “profiles”, the more information that can be obtained, the greater the criminal value. Identity crime is both and end in itself and an enabler for other more extreme crime types such as terrorism. Identity data stolen today may not manifest itself for years to come. The 13 year old with today’s social networking site is unwittingly providing the profile for exploitation in only 5 years time.
According to Professor Jonathan Rusch from the United States Department of Justice (DoJ), the U.S. has seen a rise in number of addicts. He said, “We've seen, sadly, a growing phenomenon of methamphetamine addicts who ... sell the information to somebody else who's in a better position, as a larger criminal organization, to take those data in and then make use of them.”
He warned that these thieves are using the internet and email to conduct these thefts. He said it was a different level of hacking altogether. Detective Superintendent Brian Hay said internet users should immediately delete suspicious emails. “(Antivirus software company) McAfee has identified about 40,000 pieces malicious code everyday. They have identified in excess of two million infected websites every month and that figure is growing,” he said. “We saw a hundred percent increase in 2009 (from previous year). If you are connected to the internet you are already compromised,” added Hay.