Fraudsters Are Relentless, But They Keep Failing: Here’s What We’re Seeing.

Let’s start with a story: starting at 7:14pm one evening, a fraudster submitted images of a stolen drivers license from someone we’ll call Jenny. The first two attempts started with Jenny’s genuine ID front image from a cell phone gallery, but with a fake back image submitted from a Windows device. Realizing that what he was doing was not working, the third and fourth attempts used a fake ID front with Jenny’s information but a different headshot and fake ID back image submitted from an iOS device. Those didn’t work either, so the fraudster tries a fake passport with Jenny’s information (which as you guessed, didn’t work either) so the last attempt at 8:19pm used the fake front and back again.

When it comes to fraud, we have seen it (and stopped it!) all. Fake IDs, stolen IDs, IDs submitted off a digital screen, paper copies of IDs, digitally modified IDs, templates from the internet and IDs with a mix of genuine information (called synthetic fraud, which is the latest up and coming fraud trend). Type in “fake ID” in a search engine; it’s amazing how many websites offer a fake ID for purchase. You can get a temp phone number or email, and even a fake identity online, all with ease. 

Fraud Attempts: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Literally)

But we’ve also seen some truly funny things: the faces these fake attempts use. We see headshots and selfies of famous people (Keira Knightley: in case you are reading this, know lots of people want to be you!), people wearing masks, mannequins used as a headshot and selfie, and even a few aliens have passed our way. In one notable instance, a fraudster put light over the headshot of a stolen ID and then proceeded to put cream on his face to try and match the glare. This was a pretty desperate attempt! From the sophisticated to the downright bizarre, these are all ways that fraudsters try to get past our facial recognition and liveness solution

Fraudsters are relentless. They don’t give up, and they don’t care whose lives they affect. They have stolen identities and while you may think it only affects you, it doesn’t. That new cell phone they got or money they stole from your account is used to fund more crime. Did you know that retail crime is a gateway crime, which major crime rings use the illicit proceeds to fund other crimes? These crimes can include drug trafficking, smuggling of humans and goods, money laundering, and the human trafficking and exploitation of men, women and children. It’s organized crime rings working relentlessly around the clock for money, power and status. It’s fraudster teams of people honing their craft, each becoming an expert in each stage of the fraud process. They don’t care who they exploit and use for their selfish gain. Fraudsters take advantage and exploit the most vulnerable: the homeless, mentally ill, drug addicts, the desperate and those down on their luck.

Fraud and the Organized Crime Connection

Even worse, most fraudsters are part of organized crime. These organized crimes networks are becoming more and more sophisticated, leading to a fraud arms war. As our technology gets better, so does theirs. They use bots or programs. They will order goods on your behalf and have them shipped to a house that is vacant, or when they know you are at work so that they can steal it off your porch before you get home.

These organizations have one person stealing identities, another committing the crime, and a third getting the goods or cash. And it comes from all over the world. We have seen groups out of every continent hit our system with both stolen IDs and fake IDs. There are no boundaries.

So next time you are asked to take a picture of your ID and a selfie, know that it is not only you we are protecting, but others as well. We will keep fighting the battle on your behalf, round the clock, seven days a week, 365 days a year – same as fraudsters. We will continue to evolve and we will win. Together we can make a difference. Our technology does what it says, and we will keep fighting fraud with the best solutions we can offer, staying ahead of the fraudsters every day.

Oh, and if you are a fraudster reading this…do us both a favor and walk away. We’ll stop you anyway. Let’s both go help those you exploit in deeper, more meaningful ways (join us at A4H.org).