Posted Aug 17, 2007 06:33 pm CDT
An alleged identity theft gang has been charged with attempting to steal more than $12 million from super-wealthy individuals, at least some of whom reportedly were on the Forbes 400 list.
Run by a 24-year-old Russian immigrant, according to prosecutors and a New York County grand jury indictment, the ring shows how cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated, reports the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.).
Rather than focus on relatively small-time credit-card fraud scams, identity thieves are now targeting not only the super-wealthy but upper-middle-class individuals with brokerage accounts and available home-equity lines, the newspaper reports. The Internet also has helped promote such stealing, by making once-confidential financial information relatively easy to obtain even for criminals in far-away foreign countries. Many of the victims in the alleged Forbes 400 scheme, for instance, lived in states, such as California and Texas, where property information is available online.
The alleged ringleader in the scheme, Igor Klopov, is charged in a grand jury indictment unsealed yesterday with stealing $1.5 million and attempting to steal another $10.7 million from 15 people, the Journal writes. He is in custody and has denied the charges.
In addition to mining the Internet for information, Klopov also reportedly hired hired private investigators to get more information. He allegedly used Internet job-hunting sites to recruit accomplices to withdraw money from banks, giving them fake identification to present. And he paid for his collaborators to stay at five-star hotels and hired limo services to transport them with stolen credit cards, according to the Journal.