International Identity Crime
A complex, often tangled, crime – authorized agencies battling International Identity Crime agree on this.
The jurisdiction may be local, state, federal or international, but the understanding is the same: With the globalization of the world economy and with the explosion of the Internet and social media, threats of International Identity Theft and International Identity Fraud are growing exponentially.
It is estimated whole countries are losing billions of dollars annually to organized international identity theft and fraud. A 2013 Identity Fraud report estimates: In the U.S. alone 1 in 4 consumers has been touched by Identity Theft in some way, often without even knowing it.
What makes Identity Theft international? A simple answer: Looks can be deceiving.
A criminal operation in California or New York may appear to be “local,” but the profits are actually being siphoned overseas, via money laundering and overseas bank accounts, e.g. Oftentimes, local perpetrators are being funded or instructed by international organized crime cartels. As Sherlock Holmes remarked about his arch nemesis, Professor Moriarty: “An invisible [in this case – overseas] crime lord is at the center of this web.”
At the smallest level, International Identity Crime may involve the fraudulent use of just a single passport or visa, may involve individual credit card data theft (called “skimming” or “copying”) at some local ATM or restaurant, or may involve the fraudulent use of a victim’s Social Security number.
It can seem as innocent as an Internet social network (such as Facebook and MySpace) “friending” – where a victim unwittingly divulges personal information (giving a thief enough to dig deeper, for a Social Security number, etc.).
But it can also balloon into an online (cybercrime) scam involving fraudulent overseas investments or commodities . . . and hundreds, maybe thousands, of victim investors. It might involve ID theft or false ID fraud on a huge scale, using bogus telemarketing or email scams (“phishing”).
It might involve check or bank fraud, or the continuous overseas online theft (through hacking and other cybercrime techniques) of valuable personal or corporate business information. Or it might involve the illegal purchase of goods locally, by wire and credit card fraud, and then exporting those goods to some international destination.
Finally, it could include terrorism, pornography, international drug or arms trafficking, smuggling, and international human trafficking.
International Identity Crime can be personal, involving family, friends, coworkers and neighbors. And just as easily, it can involve companies or even governments. Its criminal activity can be linked to a single individual . . . or to an international crime syndicate.
From a single alleged perpetrator to a complex criminal organization, International Identity Crime is difficult to track. Individual crimes often cross jurisdictional and national boundaries, making it hard to prosecute, proving it is complex at any level.
In the U.S., government agencies such as the FBI, the DOJ – Criminal Division, the Secret Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the IRS, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are responsible for battling identity theft and fraud. Frequently they also partner with foreign countries, sharing information and investigations with INTERPOL and Scotland Yard, for example.
U.S. prosecutors – armed with laws such as the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and RICO, as well as consumer-protection legislation – wield great striking power. Frequently . . . these agencies are also armed with only half the story.
In their zeal to combat International Identity Crime, prosecutors frequently hit hard first, then ask questions. As is often the case, when charges, investigations and indictments are leveled at an alleged perpetrator, the defendant is also a very real victim.
The Blanch Law Firm is not satisfied with any agency’s findings, nor convinced by a prosecutor’s allegations. We do not act on these . . . we act on behalf of our client, diligently questioning and discovering the whole story.
On a regular basis, our firm – with its experienced team of International Identity Crime criminal defense litigators – successfully negotiates this web of legal confusion and emotional upheaval.
The Blanch Law Firm handles cases in the greater New York area, as well as in Los Angeles, Orange County, greater Southern California, and Houston, TX.
If you are the focus of an International Identity Crime criminal investigation – or if an investigation is pending – contact The Blanch Law Firm today by calling 212 736 3900. Initial consultations are complimentary and confidential.