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Study 10000 ID theft rings bring surprises
SAN DIEGO (11/16/12)--More than 10,000 identity theft rings exist in the U.S., and for many they are a family matter, targeting bankcard, wireless and retail card industries, according to a new study released Wednesday by San Diego-based ID Analytics.

The research dispels some stereotypes about who is involved in identity theft rings and where the rings are located.

ID Analytics' ID:A Labs defines a fraud ring as a group of people--two or more--collaborating to commit identity theft. The study examined more than one billion applications for bankcards, wireless services and retail credit cards and found the rings attacking all three industries, with wireless carriers hit the most, aid a company press release.

Georgia and South Carolina were hotbeds of fraudulent activities in all three industries. Two bankcard rings in Gainesville, Fla., and in Orlando each filed 200 applications, said the company.

Among the study's findings:

  • States with the highest number of fraud rings were Alabama, the Carolinas, Delaware, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas.  Three-digit ZIP codes with the most fraud rings were in these areas: Washington, D.C.; Tampa, Fla.; Greenville, Miss.; Macon, Ga.; Detroit; and Montgomery, Ala.
  • A surprisingly high number of frauds were also found in rural areas of the country.
  • While some  involve the stereotypical organized-crime types, many identity theft rings involved families working together, even using each other's Social Security numbers and birthdates. However, rings were more commonly made up of friends having different last names, said Stephen Coggeshall, chief technology officer of ID Analytics and author of the study.
In an interview with (Nov. 15), Coggeshall said he was surprised that while lone individuals involved in fraud tend to come from urban areas, the fraud rings tended to be in the rural Southeast. He attributed some of the increase in number to a poor economy and the fact that arrests and prosecutions are low.

The study spanned the decade but emphasized the past three years.  It found that two thirds of fraud attempts are shut down before they do any damage. That leaves a third that pose threats to credit unions and other financial institutions, and to members and other consumers.
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