US identity thieves jailed over $130,000 scam that targeted the elderly

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John Leyden

03 December 2021 at 14:15 UTC

Updated: 03 December 2021 at 14:39 UTC

Dark web fraudsters caught after stealing the identities of murder victims

A pair of US identity thieves who targeted elderly people using compromised information bought through dark web cybercrime forums have been sent to prison.

Durrell Tyler, 29, and DeShawn Johnson, 30, both from Atlanta, Georgia, used stolen identities to fraudulently open accounts with credit card companies and various retailers.

The duo changed the phone numbers, email addresses, and physical addressed associated with their victims to locations under their control in order to impersonate victims in representations with creditors.

The same tactic meant that victims failed to receive notifications about applications for fraudulent lines of credit.

OpSec oversight

The scam was exposed to the authorities after Tyler attempted to steal the identities of a Georgia couple who had been murdered, as detailed in a US Department of Justice statement on the case.

This misstep by the cybercriminals shone a spotlight on one strand of the scam and allowed investigators to identify multiple homes in the Atlanta area used by Tyler and Johnson to further their illicit campaign.

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Subsequent police raids on these residences uncovered mail addressed to the pair’s victims, fraudulent driver’s licenses in the name of elderly victims with Tyler’s picture, and cache of personal information for dozens of victims listed in phones, email accounts, and a handwritten notebook.

Investigators subsequently linked both Tyler and Johnson for “more than $130,000 in actual and intended loss suffered by more than 75 victims” across the US. Some of those targeted were repeat victims of identity theft.

Behind bars

Both men were charged with access device fraud and aggravated identity theft and pleaded guilty before appearing before US District Judge Steve Jones for sentencing earlier this week.

Tyler was sentenced to three years, 10 months in prison for access device fraud, to be followed by two consecutive years imprisonment for aggravated identity theft.

He was further sentenced to three years’ probation upon release and ordered to pay $108,000 in restitution to his victims.

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Johnson was sentenced to one year, six months in prison for access device fraud, to be followed by two consecutive years imprisonment for aggravated identity theft. Upon his release, Johnson will be kept on probation for three years and required to pay $66,000 in restitution.

The case was investigated by the US Postal Inspection Service and US Secret Service.

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