Fraud Corner: What’s In A Name? A Fraudster’s Disregard for Your Identity

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other word would smell as sweet.”



Our name is part of our identity. Our identity is the essence of who or what we are and our distinguishing character or personality. Our name is part of our identity, along with our personality traits, belief system, motivations, and physical attributes (to name just a few things). When we meet someone, we display our identity with our name, interactions, and words. When we do business with a company, we identify ourselves with certain attributes: maybe it’s our name, address, or phone number. It could also be our driver’s license number, social security number, or some part of who we are: our face, fingerprint, or voice. While most people are who they say they are, there are fraudsters out there wanting to be you so that they can use whatever information of yours they can to their advantage.

People use other people for many reasons: personal gain, to control that person, to take advantage of someone, to exploit something, to feel superior, and on and on it could go. Using people is as old as time and today’s fraudsters are no different. Fraudsters will find any vulnerability and exploit it. That vulnerability can be found in a person like their confidence, financial situation, family relationships, or with their data such as usernames, passwords, social security numbers, and other personally identifiable information (PII).

The Scams and Tactics of Identity Fraudsters


Scams are the most common way a fraudster will use someone for personal gain. The FTC reported that people reported losses of $8.8 billion in scams. The most common scam in 2022 was investment scams at $3.8 billion. Investment scams lure people in with promises of teaching them how to make a lot of money quickly, easily, and with low risk. Next at $2.6 billion, and the most-reported scam, was impersonator scams. Impersonation scams are practices of copying identifying elements of a person, brand, or organization for fraudulent purposes. Simply put, an impersonator pretends to be someone else to get an advantage. The types of impersonator scams are romance, grandparent/grandkid, tech support, charity, government, Nigerian prince, and many others.


Money mules (also called “smurfers”) are a common industry term referring to people who are used to transport and launder stolen money or some kind of merchandise. Individuals being used as money mules may be willing participants; however, many money mules are not aware that they are being used to commit fraud. The individuals being used as money mules are not the only victims; the larger scheme is designed to extract money from an organization or other people.


And now onto identity theft or identity fraud. While it’s more of an indirect way of using people, a fraudster is still using “you” to commit fraud. Identity data includes anything from your name and address (very public information) to more sensitive data like your driver’s license number and social security number. Fraudsters use various tactics to get your information. It doesn’t have to be by stealing your physical card or going through your trash anymore. Most fraudsters use tactics like phishing, smishing, vishing, online scams, and hacking systems. If you want a quick buck and have the money to purchase, you just go to the dark web where you can purchase information. For example, for about $1,000, criminals can get their hands on enough documentation to successfully steal a person’s identity!

What We’re Called Matters, and Fraudsters Know It

Olamilekan, Yolo, Weatherford, Yulie… just names, right? Olamilekan comes from Yoruba, which is a language spoken in West Africa, and means “my wealth is increased by one.”  Yolo is “You Only Live Once.” Weatherford is the name of a city in Texas, and Yulie means July in Hebrew. These are just names given by fraudsters to people whose identity they have stolen, with all four found as names on images coming from digital screens as fraud from Africa.

What’s in a name? What we are called matters. As you can see, fraudsters have no regard for others. They don’t care how their action affects a person as long as they get something out of it – be it money, power, status, or control and as long as their wealth increases by one…after all, you only live once.

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