Identity-Theft Complaints Double
(AP) The Federal Trade Commission reports that 43 percent of roughly 380,000 complaints involved the hijacking of someone’s identity information, such as credit card or Social Security number, to steal money or commit fraud.
The figures come from a government database of complaints collected from the FTC, the FBI and scores of law enforcement and consumer groups. Gripes about fraud in Internet auctions ranked No. 2 and accounted for 13 percent of complaints.
Outlining the most-frequent complaints on a nationally broadcast interview Wednesday, the FTC’s Howard Beales said reports from consumers have increased with greater awareness of the problem prompted by recent high-profile identity-theft cases. “I think identity theft is a particularly pernicious crime,” said Beales, on CBS’s “The Early Show.” Beales, who heads the FTC’s consumer protection bureau, called identity theft “one specific fraud that we really reach out and try to gather complaints about.”
Up to 700,000 people in the United States may be victimized by identity bandits each year, the Justice Department says. It costs the average victim more than $1,000 in expenses to cope with the damage to their accounts and reputations, the FTC has said.
“This is a crime that is almost solely on the shoulders of the victim to resolve,” said Beth Givens, director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a San Diego-based consumer group. “They’re beleaguered, they’re tired, they’re angry and it takes them a good deal of time to recover.”
Medical Trash Used for Fraud Haunts Patients/Raises IRS Flag
(AP) The New York Times reports that private insurance carriers have paid over $1 billion in phony medical bills to bogus medical firms in the last few years. Investigators said that companies, using post office boxes as return addresses, list the name of unsuspecting doctors and patients on submitted claim forms. After a few weeks, the companies shut down and move to open again under a different name. The bills include fabricated diagnoses of patients which are logged into insurance companies' computers with the patient none the wiser.
This is very detrimental to the consumer because it affects their future insurability and employ-ability. From the doctors side, the IRS becomes a problem because there is a major discrepancy in their income. Investigators claim that perpetrators of this fraud scour the dumpsters of hospitals and medical facilities for the information.
Rebate Fraud Clips Away at Manufacturer's Controls -- Dumpster Diving Valuable Tool in Coupon Scams
Cincinnati Enquire - Groups of mothers met weekly in Iowa Catholic churches to stuff envelops with fraudulent manufacturers' rebate requests to raise money for the their schools.
A Massapequa, NY, woman and her daughters netted more than $200,000.00 by illegally redeeming rebate certificates.
Thousands of men and women across the country participate in rebating clubs via the Internet. They not only trade actual redemption coupons, but conspire to develop schemes that will defraud manufacturers using promotional offers.
Investigators say that up to 90% of the rebate requests for a certain offer may be fraudulent.
According to Postal Inspector, Rick Bowdren, one of the more aggressive ways used to obtain labels and even rebate coupons themselves, is "dumpster diving". The perpetrators stake out dumpsters behind stores, manufacturing facilities and printing facilities were coupons are often casually discarded.
U.S. law enforcement officials estimate that between $600 million and $800 million are defrauded from manufacturers per year as a result of illicit rebate requests..
Janitor was Already Moonlighting
Maintenance workers and other service personnel might not be well paid or especially well treated. They may have no particular loyalty to the employer. They are also easily impersonated and can sometimes be bought off. There's a story of a competitive intelligence operative who approached a custodian working at a competitor's facility and offered to pay him for separating the trash from a specific area and handing it over to him. The janitor refused. He had already been hired to do the same job for another competitor.
Quote by Mare Tenter President, BCl/lnformation Security, Portland, OR in Security Management Magazine.
Good Help is Hard to Find, But This is Ridiculous
Oregon Officials Reveal Inmates Working at Recycling Center Had Access to Financial & Sensitive Paperwork
As reported by the Oregonian, inmates doing maintenance at Metropolitan Disposal and Recycling, Inc., in Portland had access to financial and other sensitive paperwork and might have been trading it for tobacco from the outside. This is according to Oregon's Department of Corrections' own records.
Despite the concerns raised by the investigation, state prison officials on October 3 approved a new contract to have the inmates work even more closely with the recyclables at the site.
Inmates working at the recycling center had access to canceled checks, Social Security numbers, past police payroll forms, deposit slips, information concerning the operation of ATMs - according the departments own investigation.
The investigation, which did not involve the recycling company, began last March after a lieutenant at the Columbia River Correctional Institution overheard an inmate's phone conversations, arranging to exchange paperwork for tobacco.
Later that month, a corrections official stationed with the inmate work crew at the recycling facility saw a white van drop off a paper bag with the name "King Pin" written on it. The bag contained 9 bags of tobacco, rolling papers and lighters. The following day another bag was discovered at the back door of the facility.
The investigation also unearthed a memo from a concerned corrections guard that the inmates were exposed to some very sensitive information at the recycling facility. There was also a memo that described on incident where sensitive information from the recycling facility was found in the possession of an inmate at the prison.
Metropolitan hired the inmates as a result of a push by the department of corrections to hire out its minimum security prisoners in compliance with a new state law.
According to a department spokesperson there will be no change in the procedure. Ms. Perrin Damon says, "Recycling jobs are very appropriate for inmates because its a job not many people want to do."
Acquiring Ramsey Photos from Trash OK
The Gazette - Colorado Springs, CO - The people that went through the trash to get photos of the JonBenet Ramsey crime scene, did not break the law, said 4th Judicial District Attorney Jeanne Smith.
The photos, which later appeared in the Globe tabloid magazine, were a set of prints discarded by a Denver commercial photo laboratory. That means they are considered "abandoned" under the law, Smith said in a statement.
"There is no violation of a criminal law if another person takes possession of that property," she wrote.
The photos were shot by private investigators hired by John Ramsey, father of JonBenet, who was found dead in the basement of her parents' Boulder home on Dec. 26, 1996.
The investigators filed a complaint in March alleging that the photos had been stolen.
Because Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter had been assisting the Boulder County District Attorney in the criminal investigation, he asked Smith to look into the matter.
Smith said Ramsey's private investigators turned their film over to a Denver camera shop for processing. A test set of prints to check for quality - a standard procedure - was made and then they were discarded.
The owner of the camera shop said he noticed an "unknown person going through the garbage," Smith said.
Heroic Discoveries by Trash Workers Raises Deeper Questions about Disposal
Norcal Waste recently sent their customers in the San Francisco area promotional materials in which they proudly announced the companies contribution to history. The piece chronicles how in the past several years the "eagle-eye" workers at the disposal facility, have plucked a number of notable historic papers that had been discarded.
When asked if workers look through all discarded papers, Robert Reed, a spokesman for the firm, said that the historic materials were found as a result of inspecting the trash for hazardous waste.
One can't help but wonder though, how drawing such attention and kudos to the workers for finding these papers might not encourage them to be a bit more aggressive in their search for such items.
Moral of the story: Don't send them anything you don't want them to read.