Author Topic: NBC2 Investigates: New forms of identity theft  (Read 2613 times)


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NBC2 Investigates: New forms of identity theft
« on: November 01, 2007, 02:57:19 PM »
Last updated on: 4/30/2007 7:27:44 PM by Kara Kenney

FORT MYERS: NBC2 has uncovered the three newest ways criminals are stealing your identity. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in Southwest Florida. But NBC2 Investigator Kara Kenney found out what you need to know to protect yourself.

During the time it takes you read this story, more than 38 people will have their identities stolen. Many people realize that computers have made it much easier to steal your information. But NBC2 uncovered you may be making it easy.

When businessman Tony Chester wants to relax and get away from the rigors of the office, he goes to a café with his laptop and enjoys a cup of coffee.

“I sit here a lot. Somehow I can think better, away from the telephone,” said Chester. “This is almost an office for me.”

What Chester didn’t know is that we were attempting to interrupt his work by hacking into his computer with the help of computer expert Don Abernathy.

“This is the original Black Hawk Café. This is the one we set up,” said Abernathy. “I'm simply going to put up a router and attach it to their network.”

It took Abernathy only a few minutes to set up a Wi-Fi network that looked almost exactly like the café’s

“The evil twin if you will,” said Abernathy. “I could gain access to his computer and start copying over his files.”

In fact, it even took Chester less time to log onto our phony network than it did to log onto the café’s.

“I never think about it, I truly don't,” said Chester.

NBC2 discovered evil twin hackers typically set up shop right next to wireless cafés.

If we could fool one victim in just a matter of seconds, imagine how much personal information the hackers are stealing.

“It’s a huge problem,” said Dave White with Collier County Economic Crimes.

White says catching the thieves is nearly impossible. Out of their 350 cases a year, only a handful of arrests are made.

“It's very difficult because some of the phishing scams originate from overseas,” said White.

NBC2 uncovered the profile of identity theft victims. It turns out 44 percent of the victims are between the ages of 30 and 49-years-old and most have an income greater than $75,000.

But the largest group of victims falls in the 18 to 29-year-old range. That's why cyber thieves are targeting social networking sites.

If you have an account, you're a likely victim of our second new type of identity theft - spear phishing.

“It happens all the time,” said Abernathy.

Here's how it works - you're on MySpace and you get an e-mail from someone asking you to look at some pictures. You click on the link and it asks for your username and password. But once you enter your info, it doesn't go to MySpace - it goes directly to the hackers.

With a little cutting and pasting, it took Abernathy just minutes to set up a spear phishing page.

NBC2 asked 55 people if they could tell the different between the real MySpace page and the one Abernathy created. Of the 55 people we polled, 33 couldn't tell the difference between the real MySpace and the fake one.

“They look exactly like the same thing,” said Collier resident Bill Thompson.
But they're not the same. Spear phishing pages usually have different log-in boxes than the real thing and different web addresses as well.
“If you look at the web address, you'll see it has my company's website name and then MySpace. S that's one hint this is not MySpace,” said Abernathy.

The third type of new identity crime involves copiers.

Say you're making copies of your social security card or tax return. On older digital computers, that information is stored on a hard drive. Computer experts say it's possible for hackers to get the hard drive and steal your information.

So, with hackers thinking up schemes faster than we can keep up, what do you do to protect yourself?

First, experts say don't make copies of sensitive information in public places. Second, have a firewall on your computer and set up an uncommon password

“I recommend complicated characters like dollar signs and pound signs,” said Abernathy.

Third, if you're using someone else's wireless network you can ask the manager of the shop which one is theirs.

Lastly, type web addresses into your address bar - don't click through an e-mail or instant message because the time you think you're saving can be just the right amount for thieves to make off with your money