Friday, September 17, 2010

Facebook Status and Burglaries

WMUR in New Hampshire reports what is one of the first large-scale burglary cases based on Facebook status messages that I'm aware of. For those of us who need to communicate about Facebook and social network security concerns to varied populations, this is a great example to cite. According to the article, "Investigators said the suspects used social networking sites such as Facebook to identify victims who posted online that they would not be home at a certain time."

The article mentions $100,000-200,000 of stolen property that was recovered, and that the case was solved due to an officer who noticed that fireworks of the same brand reported stolen in a burglary were being shot off and investigated on orders to check out any fireworks they heard being fired.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Different Angle on Identity Theft: When Identity Thieves Use Your Identity

The story of Dr. Gemma Meadows, as reported by MSNBC is an intriguing one. Like many victims of identity theft, she was contacted by her bank and informed of fraudulent activity. What happened next though, is a bit off the normal path for identity theft victims.

Various packages with a wide range of values started to show up, and have continued to show up. Now, Dr. Meadows spends time tracking and returning packages, as well as fielding calls from various vendors from whom the items are ordered.

Why? According to the article, and what she has been able to determine, the identity thieves are using her information to test validation scripts on e-commerce websites. Her valid address, phone, and other details are being used to make transactions appear valid.

Interestingly, the scripts seem to work in some cases, flagging the transactions as possible fraudlent. The article mentions that some sites note that the item is to be shipped thousands of kilometers away from the order location, and that others call to verify that she is the one placing the order. Many others, however, don't do as well, and the stream of packages continues.

The article is well worth a read. We're used to seeing lives disrupted by identity theft and the credit and financial issues that can go with it. Receiving packages when criminals use your identity to support their crimes in a different way is an entirely different event, and appears to be one that law enforcement and our database driven society isn't geared to handle.