LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Marina del Rey man has been convicted on charges related to a rapidly-growing high-tech crime known as synthetic identity theft, according to an exclusive KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO report.
KNX 1070’s Charles Feldman reports the prosecution is believed to be a first for Los Angeles and only the second such prosecution in the nation.
Synthetic identity theft occurs when thieves create new identities either by combining real and fake identifying information to establish new accounts with fictional identities, or create a brand new identity from fake or inaccurate information, according to credit reporting agency Experian.
Since perpetrators of synthetic ID theft will only use a stolen Social Security number – the only piece of information that matches the “real” person – the crime can often go undetected for years.
“It’s almost like a ghost is committing these crimes,” said prosecutor Warren Kato with the District Attorney’s Office.
Synthetic identity theft is the fastest-growing type of ID fraud in the U.S. and has already surpassed “true-name” identity fraud, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which estimated it currently accounts for up to 85 percent of all identity fraud.
Earlier this year, Deon Mimbs plead guilty to withdrawing almost $2 million in bank withdrawals using fake business and personal identities.
“He did this a number of times, in effect creating a small army of synthetic identities,” Kato said. “He used these identities to form fake companies, he used ‘the army’ to create fake customers who would generate fake charges for these companies.
In order to avoid becoming a victim of synthetic ID theft, consumers are urged to check their annual Social Security statement to ensure their reported income figure is not over-inflated from what was actually earned, and to be on the lookout for mail that is sent to your home address with another person’s name.