An identity protection company, ID Analytics, says a “belt of fraud” exists through the rural Southeast from Texas to Georgia. The other metro areas listed in a report as having the most identity fraud activity were in the areas around Washington, Tampa, Fla., Greenville, Miss., Macon, Ga. and Detroit. Identity fraud “is when you pretend to be someone else and apply for a service,” said Stephen Coggeshell, the author of the study. There is identity theft as well as what Coggeshell calls “identity manipulation,” in which folks alter their actual personal information to apply for services without their real identities being detected.
There are more than 10,000 identity fraud rings in the U.S. according to the study. Identity fraud rings sometimes consist of professional criminals, but often are simply groups of family members or friends. For instance, while the city of Montgomery, Ala. has a high instance of fraud rings, the problem is even more concentrated in some of the more rural areas surrounding the city.
The study focused on fraud in the public sector, examining more than a billion applications for bank cards, wireless services and credit cards. Federal prosecutors also have witnessed a similar phenomenon in the Montgomery area involving people filing false tax returns. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama has prosecuted a number of cases recently involving identity theft and tax fraud. The owner of a Montgomery tax preparer business pleaded guilty on November 1st to several charges. Bruce King, owner of Premier Tax, is one of nine people associated with that business to plead guilty to tax fraud and identity theft charges. It appears King coached employees on how to falsify tax returns, with identity theft being one of the tactics they used.
Source: Montgomery Advertiser
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