Afraid of the Dark

35905365 - computer hacker stealing data from a laptop concept for network security, identity theft and computer crime

Having a fear of the dark is pretty common for children, but not usually for adults unless you’re talking about the “dark web.” (The “dark web” is kind of like the Boogey Man or monsters under the bed for grown-ups. It’s also the part of the internet where criminals reign.) Today’s fraudster is a Carpentersville, Illinois man who was one of those unscrupulous individuals lurking on the “dark web.” Because he purchased some stolen identities and used them to carry out a bank fraud scheme, he’s now headed to prison for a dozen years after committing identity theft fraud.

The “dark web” is not visible to search engines. It requires a browser that makes a user’s identity anonymous. (That’s handy for criminals who want to buy illicit things without being detected.) This virtual market place is a place where unscrupulous individuals can buy all kinds of things including stolen credit card numbers, illegal drugs, weapons, and other personal credentials, just to name a few. (Apparently, you can buy login credentials for high balance bank accounts for $500; purchase $3,000 in counterfeit $20 bills for $600, or get a “lifetime” Netflix premium account for $6. You can also hire hackers there and buy stolen identities.)

Over nearly two years, the criminal from Carpentersville, Illinois obtained more than 70 stolen identities including birth dates, Social Security numbers, addresses, email passwords and mothers’ maiden names, mostly from chiropractors, from the “dark web.” (That’s a different kind of online shopping. I wonder if it has free shipping?) He used the personally identifiable information to open retail charge accounts and buy merchandise and gift cards at a variety of stores. (He defrauded multiple Springfield businesses of more than $600,000.)

Even though the identity thief was in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service, his bond was revoked when he allegedly tried to get an auto loan to buy a Jaguar. He used an 11-year-old’s Social Security number, bogus employment information and a fake driver’s license. (That’s pretty brazen to do something like that while under the care of the law.)

The 25-year-old Carpentersville, Illinois man was convicted of bank fraud and identity theft fraud for stealing identities off the “dark web.” The judge sentenced him to 12 years in prison and ordered him to pay back $600,549 in restitution.

What’s the lesson learned here? Perhaps today’s fraudster will think twice about lurking around dark places on the internet in the future. And, for everyone else, if the “dark web” doesn’t scare you, perhaps today’s case will encourage you to think twice about how to prevent yourself from being victimized in the same manner.

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “Carpentersville man gets 12 years for bank fraud, identity theft,” published by Daily Herald on October 19, 2018.

A federal judge on Friday sentenced a Carpentersville man to 12 years in prison for a bank fraud scheme using identities stolen from the dark web.

According to a release from the U.S. attorney’s office, Keith JD Offord defrauded several Springfield businesses of more than $600,000.

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.