AML Talk Show Hosted by Stephen Platt
Good afternoon, and welcome to this KYC360 anti-money laundering talk show with me, Stephen Platt. I hope that you are all safe and well. At KYC360, as you know by now, we believe very strongly that to drive greater engagement with anti-money laundering you must also raise awareness of predicate crimes. And today we’re going to talk about one man’s extraordinary involvement in identity theft. In the U.S. alone, this crime type is set to cost consumers approximately $20 billion annually.
Dartanyon Williams is known as the master identity thief. At the age of 15 he perpetrated his first identity frauds, and over the ensuing seven or eight years, he built a criminal enterprise of over 40 operatives. He was eventually caught and sent to prison, where he spent three years in solitary confinement. His story, I’m delighted to say, is ultimately one of redemption because since his release many years ago now, he has worked with numerous law enforcement agencies to help them deepen their knowledge in the investigation of identity frauds.
He wrote a best selling book entitled ‘The Master Identity Thief’, and is now an official candidate for election to the U.S. Senate in the State of Louisiana. It is by any measure I think an incredible story, and I’m delighted to have Dartanyon here with us as a guest. So Dartanyon, welcome. Thank you very much for joining us today. How are things over in the glorious State of Louisiana?
Hey, Stephen. Hey, thank you guys for having me this morning. Louisiana is perhaps reflective of everything else that’s going on in the world, all things coronavirus. We’re just faced with constant and consistent challenges on a daily basis, trying to mitigate against this virus that has seemingly taken over our societies.
Yeah, it’s a tragedy. Now, this is a cheeky, but pretty obvious question, Dartanyon. As a former sort of master identity thief, my first question is, how do I know that I’m speaking to Dartanyon Williams?
Well Stephen, actually you don’t. We’re just going to have to go to go.
I’m just going to have to trust you on this one. I’m pulling your leg, as we say. But what I want to do, because not all of our listeners will have the benefit of being acquainted with your story to the extent that I am, I’d like us to begin, really, at the beginning, and dive straight into this, allowing you to talk us through your story. So if you wouldn’t mind giving us a little bit of information about your background, your family, and how it is you got into the commission of these crimes at such a tender age.
That’s right. Well Stephen, from the onset, I am from a small rural community by the name of St. Joseph, Louisiana. It is a 1,500 people town population. So it’s very small, very rural, and steeped in poverty. I just come from humble beginnings. I’m one of four siblings, but I was grateful enough to come up and be raised in a two parent home. And at the age of 15, curiosity consumed me. It was these Capital One commercials. At the time, their slogan was ‘purchase power’, and I knew my parents had a Capital One credit card, and my curiosity led me to pursue that.
Being a resident within the home, I had access to my parents’ credentials. Very specifically, the social security numbers, date of birth, driving license, and the things that they would take for granted and just leave available or accessible at least, to anyone that lives within that household. So I stole my dad’s credentials and began rehearsing calls that I would eventually place to Capital One to request a replacement card, an additional card at least, adding myself to this account as an authorized user.
So the venture in identity theft started there. Scaled to my mom, and after my mom then I went to both sets of grandparents. And after I exhausted their credentials and the abilities of their credibility, the world… Anybody was subject to victimization in that regards. So at the age of 15 years old, I stole my dad’s identity. By the age of 16, my mom’s identity. By the age of 17 and 18, both sets of grandparents had been accomplished. And by the age of 19, I had begun to really scale the perpetration of identity theft crimes, and had begun to recruit men and women twice my age, in fact, based on some of the experiences that I came to experience in the operation. And so that was the commencement of it, and it escalated and turned into a criminal enterprise that amassed more than 40 people, 20 men, 20 women.
Incredible. It really is an amazing story. You essentially incubated this criminal enterprise in your own household at the age of 15 by obtaining a supplemental credit card through the impersonation of your father initially, having had a fairly easy access to the credentials that you required to that. That’s essentially how this started.
How did you successfully go on to impersonate your mother? Presumably you were engaged in telephone calls at that stage in order to obtain a supplemental credit card for her, or did you employ a slightly different methodology as far as your mother was concerned?
Absolutely. I documented in the book that effort came by recruiting a female operative, to whom I passed on, or assigned, or ascribed my mom’s credentials, appreciating her date of birth, social security number. I knew the home primary billing address, and all the specifics that makes an identity theft scheme successful. So it was through one of the female operative recruits. It was through her that I was able to steal my mom’s identity and to accelerate or advance the perpetration and committing that crime against her.
Dartanyon, you must have reflected on this over a long period of time. What was it, you think, about you, that caused you to have, as it were, the proclivity to essentially defraud your own parents. Was your intention to defraud at that time, or was your intention just to obtain some benefit but not see your parents harmed? Were you paying off the credit card bills? What was in your mind at the time?
Sure. Stephen, initially I intended just to make an unauthorized loan from my dad, by way of his credit card, but there were a lot of things happening at the same time. I was engaged in some community gambling, table card games and these things. I sought to borrow my dad’s money from cash advancements after having obtained the PIN number to the credit card of the local banks, thinking that I would have an opportunity to replace the funds. But gambling losses led to an inability to satisfy at least the minimum payment due. And the way by which is was discovered was, the more you use the credit card, the more the minimum amount increases. And I was still sending them the 50 dollar minimum payment. And Capital One called one day and alerted my parents and said, you’re short on your payment, essentially. And that’s how the scam came to light.
But initially, to answer your question, no, I did not intend or set out for this to evolve into a type of criminal career. I thought that it was going to be short term, but as I engaged, the more I realised that the opportunity with amassment was ripe and ready, and so I exploited by way of curiosity coupled with greed.
That’s fascinating. How did you get found out? You say that obviously you were rumbled when your parents were alerted to the fact that they were behind on payments. What age were you when you were found out by your parents?
I was almost 16, so it was not many months later. It was about six to nine months later from the inception of stealing my dad’s credentials and obtaining access to his Capital One credit card to discovery, was about six to nine months.
I see. If you don’t mind me asking this question, how did you parents react to this revelation?
My mom was livid. And in fact, she captures that in a documentary that I produced that can be seen at www.themasteridentitythief.com. Just press that play button and see that documentary, it gives you a back story, or a frame of reference within which to capture the context, the memoir and the story in which I tell it, from its origins. So my mom was the disciplinarian of the household. My dad was the one who lay with the extension of the olive branch, so he was forgiving from the onset, even choosing to believe that it was not any one of his children that had committed the scam. But my mom had a better sense, a more keen sense in terms of being able to detect deceit or fraud amongst the children. And as such, specifically pointed out me.
And did you admit to it at the time?
I did not initially, but as pressure was applied I ended up conceding to her observations.
I see. And what were the consequences for you at that time? Were the authorities alerted? Did Capital One, as it were, learn that this was a fraud? Or did your parents essentially cover for you and deal with this as a domestic disciplinary matter?
Yes sir. The consequences were typical. Punishment, grounding, whooping.
And we dealt with it, we resolved, or at least my parents intended to resolve it domestically. Nothing was reported to neither Capital One, nor the authorities, the threat of which was part of the psychological consequence, but I suppressed that and sued my mom after my dad.
I see. I see. Do you think that for your father, your mother may have alerted the authorities?
I think so.
Really? That’s an interesting dynamic in parenting. Obviously this was a big event in the Williams household. It’s not every week that you get rumbled for stealing your parents’ credentials and taking money in this way. A harsh lesson was doled out to you, but despite that you went back to conduct more of the same types of acts. Why was that?
Again, opportunity. It was rather easy at the time, technology had not evolved or advanced, whereby detection was automatic. They have systems in place in today’s time, they still can be easily circumvented by a master level identity thief. But in that day, identity theft was just coming onto the scene, and the United States 1998 Identity Theft and Deterrence Act had just been enacted into law by Congress, and that gave an indication that all entities and agencies are in the elementary stages of being educated on this particular crime. So the season, the opportunities were ripe and ready at that time, and in that season so as to perpetrate a more white collar crime that was more lucrative, but less punitive. And we just pursued it.
Interesting. How did the criminality escalate? It’s one thing to be able to access information that you’re able to obtain in a domestic context, yeah? Your parents are leaving their wallets and their bags around, and utility bills, and bank statements, and credit cards, and driving licenses. I get that. But in order to scale this, how were you able to access data about other victims that you needed to masquerade as them?
What I came to learn, Stephen, is that consumer data is much more accessible than the average consumer thinks or realises. Initially, franchise hotel chains would have these receipts of check outs, of registration receipts from when a patron would patronise their establishment. And they would have them all boxed, these carbon copy copies, of these transactions. To my dismay, these storage rooms were left unlocked and unguarded. And I would just access that initially, and build credentials and identities off of that information. I had four copies, carbon copies, photo copies of driver’s license, front and back, credit cards front and back, and all the credentials that were needed in that instance to perpetrate or steal, to assume the identity of that particular victim.
But then it scaled, and I began to recruit info operatives. The more money I made, the more access it gave me to the space of accessing consumer data and information. So I began recruiting people that worked in restaurants, people that worked in banks, people that worked in law enforcement, people that worked in everyday systems in society that have access to consumer information at their fingertips. And that’s how I created a pool, if you will, of resources from which I could at least gather and collect information, from which I could draw at the time that I needed to replicate in the perpetration of commission of identity theft, and payment card fraud.
And so what did you do with that stolen identity data? Presumably you applied for credit cards that were sent to you directly, was that one methodology?
Yes sir. So a number of things. The instant credit market is the gateway to identity theft. It is what makes identity theft so lucrative, and it is in fact the driving force behind identity theft that has made it the fastest growing crime in America. It is the instant credit market, and we understand and appreciate that the instant credit market appeals to the sentiment or desire for instant gratification that’s part and parcel to human nature. So all things instant in a society that sells convenience, is the connection between that instance in terms of having instant access to resources that are otherwise and allowances that are immediately available to you, by way of a market that sells instant access. So the instant credit market, if it was not what it is today, then identity theft would not scale at the rate that it’s scaling.
That is really remarkable, and something that I had never considered before. Essentially what you’re saying is that this ever-growing need for us as a consumer society to satiate our desire for instant gratification, which the credit market and credit institutions allow us to do to an ever greater extent, is clearly a key component, a key ingredient of identity theft. The easier you’re able to access instant credit, the easier it is for identity thieves.
Absolutely. And the way in which it works is, for example when a credit score of 721 or better, typically in that transaction, or rather the application for instant credit, no proof of income is required, it’s only a stipulated income. So at that level you’re engaging with a system, a computer, a design of metrics that are designed to automatically approve, if you will, a certain credit amount based on the satisfaction of a systematic credit criteria. Knowing that, or having insight into that, it was always easy, it was then and still is now, to manipulate the system through trial and error after identifying the deficiencies in terms of the calculation and how those things read out metrically as part of that transaction.
With a 721 Beacon score, and an application request for say, $15,000, $20,000, instantly that identity thief is awarded that credit amount, and exploits it to maximum, with the understanding that the return on investment in that regard is at least 50% of the credit amount that was awarded. $20,000 instant credit account, $10,000 calculated to be the return on investment for that particular transaction. Identity that had a 721 Beacon score or better would guarantee a return at least a minimum a $25,000 profit on a total investment of $1,500 and the replication of all credentials that made that identity a victim.
That is really quite remarkable. So you were in a position to know, because of the level of insight that you had into the world of, as you describe it, systematic credit assessment. You knew exactly what information to present in order to guarantee, as it were, a good return on the investment of time that you were making in perpetrating these frauds. That really is remarkable. Was it just trial and error that led you to obtain that insight into the way in which the credit market operated? Or did you have some other form of insight information?
Absolutely Stephen, so initially it was trial and error. And what I mean by that, I mean a type of hit and miss from identity to identity. But once I was able to gain info operatives that worked at car dealerships and in banking institutions whom I could supply name, social security number, and date of birth of the prospective victim, then I would gain and gather their actual credit reports. That credit reports would position me and my organisation to identify those prospects who’d guarantee a return on investment, or rather a desired outcome appreciating the identity theft scheme that we would perpetrate in advance. So I took a rather creative system that had a 50/50 margin of error, and scaled it all the way down to zero margin of error because I had actual credit reports in hand that displayed the actual revolving accounts, instalment accounts, the status, the Beacon scores, FICAN scores, and all those things that made their score unique and specific to the identity theft scheme and transaction that we were intending to perpetrate.
Now at this stage, Dartanyon, you clearly graduated from a situation where as a minor you made a stupid decision, which was to steal your parents’ ID, for the purpose of, as you describe it, availing yourself of an unauthorized loan. You didn’t intend to defraud them, you didn’t want to see them any worse off. But now a couple of years later, you’ve graduated onto some quite serious criminality, and you must’ve known at the time that you were consciously defrauding victims. You weren’t taking unauthorised loans, you weren’t going to be paying these back. What was it that caused that step up, if you like?
Again, the ease with which I could access consumer data and perpetrate it. And then there’s some other things, appreciating spiritual aspect of it. And that’s why we have to set this discussion, this dialogue, in the context of redemption, because I’ve been since redeemed from those experiences. Trust and believe that I have, having been 15 years removed from my last incident of incarceration, or rather my last incident of federal conviction, 2005.
We have to give mention to these forces and spiritual darkness that are part impartial to that mind manipulation that leads you down a path, to make decisions for darkness in that regard. By this time, at the age of 19, I’ve captured my first million dollars in cash, as is documented in the book. So the ability, that avarice, that desire to acquire more in pursuit of more, without serious consequence, and having the mindset and mentality that money at that stage can buy you, as it had to that date out of trouble, as long as you’re in the State jurisdiction, you’ll ever be more encouraged to keep scaling, to keep going.
Yes. And of course these schemes build a momentum of their own, and you’ve got other people involved, and it’s very, very difficult to back out. If the way forward is really greased by the ease with which you can continue to perpetrate the crime, then why not, particularly if it’s generating such enormous sums of money. I’m reminded actually, it’s perhaps a poor analogy, but during my time in practice I was involved in a number of large asset recovery cases involving kleptocrats who’d secreted their money in different international centres around the world, and I was involved in investigating those, and in some cases successfully getting the money back to the victim countries.
One of the things that always amazed me about those cases was just how much these corrupt politicians had stolen. If you’ve stolen a billion dollars, why do you need to steal another billion dollars? Or even another billion dollars beyond that? What can you do with three billion dollars that you can’t do with one billion dollars? And the answer is, of course, that once you’re in it, it’s very difficult to back out, and the momentum continues, and in some cases it’s just pure greed, but I can understand in part reference to my experience of dealing with those cases, your answer. Would you mind telling us… And I do want to come on to talk more about different forms of identity theft today. But the story, Dartanyon, is a fascinating one. So I hope you don’t mind if we just stick on that for a moment. What can you tell us about the structure of the organisation that you built? You were clearly sitting at the head of it, but what did it look like beneath you?
The organization was made up of 20 men and 20 women. And the reason being is that through my trial and error stages, my younger days, I kept getting arrested. From the experience and the constant encounter of being looked at, I had this baby face. I had a young face. I didn’t look as if I should be awarded a $15,000 instant credit account. So I began encountering, and I said okay, I need to recruit men and women that are much older than I am, at least twice my age, who would at least quail this one item of suspicion at the point of sale, in applying for that instant credit account.
Basically the structure was this. It was 20 men when it was in it’s full swing. By this time I’m age 21, 22. In it’s full operation, I had 20 info operatives. Now info operatives is simply someone whom I recruited that worked in a place of business, for a tax preparation company, in a banking system, at a car dealership, at a hotel, at a convenience store, who was in a position to gather and collect information by use of devices that I would provide them called data collectors, or scammers. And I recruited 20 of those individuals, whom I would pay $1,000 a week every Sunday to hand me back the device that I’d given them, to download and upload information that they had recruited, so that we expanded our time span.
Then I had 20 field operatives. A field operative is the person that goes out into the field to attend or satisfy what I had designed or created as a merchant itinerary list. A merchant itinerary list is the merchants, or the stores that I would target from region to region, district to district, and draw or create an itinerary for the field operatives to target and go and exploit under the stolen identities of the alleged victims. So that was the structure. And I paid these individuals $2,000 a week to satisfy specific quotas at the $215,000 a day.
So the payroll, the structure, the organization of it was salary based. It was not commission based, because I knew that there was a certain quota that I had to make, a satisfy meet on a daily basis in order to be able to make the weekend’s payroll. These individuals were able to secure housing with stolen identities, who were able to secure transportation with stolen identities. And just all things. Boats with stolen identities. Anything that’s part and parcel to the American Dream in terms of having material positions that can be attained or gained by way of the credit market, we were able to do as an organisation of identity thieves at a mastery level.
Incredible. And how much did you accumulate, Dartanyon, by the time you were caught?
By the time I was caught, 3.1 million dollars cash at the age of 23.
Which is a lot of money, but up until that point you’d presumably been spending quite a bit. So over the duration of the scheme itself you generated a great deal of money.
Yes sir. It was untold. I was never about the mindset to document or keep track of, but the way in which they calculate it is if an identity thief has a million dollars on cash, that is perhaps one third of the total value of the crimes that he or she has perpetrated.
So if I have a million dollars in cash, it took probably four million dollars worth of fraud to perpetrate or commit in order to get that cash value.
I see. Now this is a critical question, certainly for our listeners. Did you launder it? And if so, how did you launder it? Were you ever asked any questions about where the money came from? Tell us what you did with it once it was essentially in hand.
Sure. Money laundering is a sophisticated scheme in and of itself. And in my age, and at that day, it was perhaps not looked upon as such. But I did have a franchise of small businesses, the entities of which were started and built on some of the proceeds, if not all together all the proceeds of moneys that I gained from the identity theft crimes. And to some extent, those moneys get entangled, no matter how legitimate you intend for the business to be and operate. Still, until they get to a functional place, they have to be maintained by some cashflow or resource. And I used those moneys to start these franchises and these businesses with the hope of creating a type of front, if you will, that would generate legitimate income, or rather give the appearance of such, so as to give explanation for the lifestyle that I created for myself and others.
How interesting. And were they cash generative businesses, generally?
Sports bars, barber shops, car washes, these type of entities that will take in cash and credit card transactions.
Your parents must have been curious as to the modus vivendi for your success. Were they of the view that you were just a good businessman, and that these businesses were throwing off a lot of money, allowing you to live a certain lifestyle?
I never gaged my parents or cared to inquire what they thought of me then and that day, after I’d moved on from them as targets for the organisation.
But there’s enough reason to believe that my parents knew that I was not acquiring it operating in the measure of wealth or resources that I had based off legitimacy.
They even said, I started off a victim. And then I had a track record of being in and out of jail for the same crime. I was arrested 23 times from the age of 18 to 25. So that was evidence enough that I was doing something that was contrary to righteousness.
And those arrests, Dartanyon, were they in relation to identity theft?
Yes sir, the vast majority of them were in relation to some form or type of identity theft, as many spells as access device fraud, check fraud, forgery… It just depends on how the arresting officer wants to document it, but all roads lead to identity theft, in some form or measure.
And presumably the authorities were unable to draw the dots, recognize that what they had in front of them actually, in their midst, was literally a master identity theft who was building up to commit quite serious fraud.
It’s interesting. It’s not only financial institutions that suffer from disjointed data sets, it’s also law enforcement or regulatory bodies as well, as we know. How in the end, Dartanyon, did you get caught? Was it that you were just frankly too bold, or too flash with the money? Did you draw attention to yourself? What happened? How did you get rumbled for this?
For the entire time that I was committing identity theft crimes, I was on State probation from a commercial burglary attempt at the age of 18, trying to break into Carroll High School to steal a computer to equip myself for the purpose of committing these crimes. So I was on probation for the entire extent, State probation. But unbeknownst to me, at some point, two years prior to my apprehension, I gained the attention of the FBI and secret service, so I was being investigated by two federal agencies, independent investigations at the time, leading up to my eventual federal conviction, for conspiracy to commit identity theft at the age of 23.
Dartanyon, for the benefit of our listeners, the fact that you’re being investigated by a federal agency doesn’t mean that you are necessarily guilty of a federal crime. What makes a crime a federal crime? Is it a crime that’s being committed across State borders?
Yes sir. There are a number of factors that can go into whether or not a crime qualifies as a federal offense. It just depends upon the statutes that apply to the jurisdictions on which you are perpetrating the crime. At any moment, bank robbery, identity theft, could go federal, just dependent on the type of crime committed, and the scale at which it is being perpetrated or committed.
I see. But of course, if it’s a federal crime, it’s a whole other level of seriousness, isn’t it?
Absolutely, yes sir.
And the sophistication of State agencies is nothing compared to the resources and sophistication of federal agencies. So you had the full weight of the federal government investigating your activities through two separate investigations. When did you first learn of that? Was it when they descended on you? Or did you know that they were on your tail?
I got suspicions. I began to get worried when I kept getting out of jail by being on probation, especially in the latter half of this expedition. When I’ve been on probation, we have to get a probation bond, and get your probation officers’ permission, and all these things to get back out of jail, not back up that time for that probationary period. And on this one particular occasion, I thought within myself that I wasn’t getting out of jail. And then I felt like there were other entities and agencies watching me in the shadow, and I was able to get out of jail, and I felt like my day was coming.
By that time I had developed a beef with my female probation officer. And while you’re in that State jurisdiction, I had enough resources to hire the best attorneys, to pay any amount of bond. And these offenses were white collar, remind you. So the bonds weren’t astronomical. And there came a point where paranoia began to overtake me. I just thought that any and all things, and everybody were undercovers, watching me in the shadows. And it began to be more of a distraction than anything, and it just led to eventual demise.
So eventually you were arrested, and you were prosecuted and convicted, you were given a lengthy prison sentence I think, was it three years?
Actually it was two years, of which I served 18 months.
Okay. That was served in a federal penitentiary.
Yeah. And how is it that you came to serve some of that time in solitary confinement?
Well that was in the second stint of federal incarceration.
The first stint was for the cause and commission of identity theft. When it expired in 2004 I came home, obviously on supervisor release. That’s the federal terminology for probation.
For nine months, only to return back to a terminal imprisonment for a drug charge, that this time lasted for six long years.
It was during that period of incarceration, the six years of incarceration, three of which were spent in conditions of constitutional solitary confinement, 24/7.
Yeah, that is remarkable. I cannot begin to contemplate how difficult that must have been for you. And as you say, unconstitutionally. Now, let’s focus on the positive. What have you been doing since your release? I referred initially to the work that you’ve been doing with law enforcement agencies. How did that come about?
That came about during the first stint, when nobody understood what identity theft was. They had all different kinds of names of it, and all of a sudden it actually took on the name of identity theft.
In that space, it was then when the authorities were trying to figure out, what is this and how are you doing this? Because you’ve got to keep in mind, identity theft in its essence, truest and purest form, is a matter of national security. You are stealing the identity of individuals and perpetrating crimes, or advancing schemes and scams unbeknownst to that individual. So in its truest form, at its core and at its essence, it is in effect a cause and issue of national security, especially here in America where it has remained the fastest growing crime for the last 22 consecutive years, from 1998 to date. So at that level, when you take all things into consideration, it exposes such a sense of nature, that the scale and extent to which an identity can be used to perpetrate photo fraud, or to make illegal gun purchases. This thing needs to be put front and centre on the radar, and dealt with by all agencies from a municipality level to the highest government agency to try to curve and reverse the trend of this scaling problem.
Yes. And of course, for many of our listeners who are officers in financial institutions trying to combat financial crime, A, they’ll be busy trying to protect their organisations, their customers from falling victim to identity theft, number one. But number two, they’re also very concerned to ensure that criminals are not laundering money through their institutions utilising fake identities. And so this is, as you say, an absolutely critical issue for society at large, and in particular I suspect for the financial services industry, which is why I think your engagement with us today is just so valuable.
So you began working with some of those law enforcement agencies to educate them?
In the methodologies that you utilised, and I’m sure you added a lot of value there. Did you get anything in return for that? What was in it for you?
A mitigated sentence.
I agreed to share with them the way in which I crafted and created the schemes that I was perpetrating.
And me particularly, the arrangement as I documented in the book was specific to the crimes that I perpetrated and committed. And with that inclusion, incriminating anyone else that was part and parcel to my organisation, with exception to myself.
That must have been a hell of an experience, pivoting to working with federal law enforcement officers to help educate them. That must have been a very interesting experience for you.
It was. Initially it was terrifying. You’re in a room, you have these federal agents, and you know that you made it to the big league at that level. But remind you, at the time I’m 23 years of age, I’ve never had an account on a federal authority, and it’s just surreal.
But at the same time, in a weird way, it was perceived as an accomplishment. Here it is, I had mastered the crime evidently, and I had federal authorities, as was observed by my attorney, who called time out during the briefing sessions, saying hey, I don’t know whether you realise it or not, but this is actually more educational for them. And as such, it serves as a benefit to you in that regard. Or at least that’s how we are approaching it.
From our perspective. That’s when, after that side bar you come back into the space, you’re more relaxed. The environment is more relaxed. The terms and conditions of the engagement have already been set for, but now you can really trust, if you will, the atmosphere and flow of how the information is being shared now, with the confidence that you are actually educating and advising in that context, as opposed to just being drilled and interrogated.
And it gave me a sense of accomplishment in terms of having come to understand this crime in a way that those who were empowered, and employed for that matter, to understand did not.
That’s very interesting. Very, very interesting indeed. Now, could we come on now to talk about the different types of identity theft that you’re familiar with today, accepting of course, Dartanyon, that your past misdemeanours are 15, 20 years ago. You’re not engaged in this activity anymore, but you take a keen interest in it because this is an area of expertise of yours. What, in terms of educating our listeners, are the different types of identity theft that you think pose, as it were, the greatest threat to them?
I’m going to segue into that step, and I’d just like to answer, or at least remark on one of your previous statements regarding what am I doing in the space of positive advancement these days.
I consult in the space of identity theft, detection, deterrence, and detainment. And not just identity theft, but payment card fraud, check fraud, and a lot of these fraudulent schemes and scams that the general public is not privy to. I do that under the umbrella of my consulting firm, the DAW Group. I own, and have since founded, DuckPond Technologies Inc, which as of March 10 of this year, I own 10 unique patents in the space of fraud detection and prevention. I’ve developed the panacea, if you will, to payment card fraud as the world has ever known and experienced it to date. About to go to market with that technology here within the next 90, not more than 120 days.
So that’s some things, systems, products and services, that I’m putting in place to try to reverse the train of the four different types of identity theft primarily, which is suicidal identity theft, childhood identity theft, vehicular identity theft, and of course social identity theft. These are the four types of identity theft that establishes the framework. And these are the same types of identity theft that I’ve developed products and services to meet head on, in an effort to resolve this crisis.
How interesting. So you’ve actually commoditised your expertise in the form of intellectual property, which takes the form of technology solutions. And clearly, in order to do that and keep your solutions at the forefront, you need to keep a breast of the motives of the vendor, if you like, of fraudsters, identity and credit fraudsters. So that’s really, really interesting. Now you talk about the four types. You started there, Dartanyon, referring to suicidal.
Yeah. Could you explain, or give us the benefit of your knowledge of each of those four types, please?
Absolutely. Suicidal identity theft is simply the perpetration or commission of fraud against oneself, especially in a moment or time of crisis. And as I was writing this book, at least the conspectus of it, I took note of this in 2008 during the housing market crisis here in the United States, and for them and around the world. And the year following… Identity theft and fraud statistic always follow for the preceding year comes out the next year, usually in February. And the stats were just off the charts. Fraud had exploded, had increased at an alarming rate. And this was because people were acquiring these homes, second homes, third homes, solely on state of income, and not income that they had to provide a proof.
And this was a type of fraud in and of itself due to a lack of regulation of course, but when people began to feel the implode and pressure of that financial collapse, they began to exhaust the resources that were most immediate. There was their existing accounts, and accounts that had not yet been established but would be established for the purpose of maximizing, only to perpetrate a rabbit route court in this fraud. So suicidal identity theft is essentially the use of one’s own credentials for the purpose and benefit of reporting as fraud after you’ve maximized the benefits of those credentials.
I see. That’s very, very interesting. And the other three types?
Childhood identity theft. Childhood identity theft is simply the use and perpetration of a child’s social security number without the hyphen marks. And the market recognizes this as one of three CPNs, credit profile number, credit protection number, credit privacy number. Regarding to what acronym you ascribe to it, it remains a child social security number without the hyphen marks. Louisiana State Police reported, not more than three weeks ago, they had a sting bust down there in New Orleans, Louisiana, where an organization, or CPN firm, or a financial services firm, was selling CPNs, or children social security numbers, to buyers who were assuming these social security numbers for the purpose and intent of establishing a different lifestyle off of what benefits could be gained from using those social security numbers that had not yet gained an identity in the credit market industry or system.
So childhood identity theft is that second type of identity theft that’s scaling at a very alarming rate. And the reason that I’m explicating these for, is because these are the ones that are scaling. There are other types within the framework, but these four… Suicidal for example, if I may refer back to it, as a result of coronavirus we are going to see numbers as a result of identity theft, and all types and sorts of fraud that reported in February that will be historical. As a result of this crisis, fraud always peaks in a moment in time of crisis. Childhood identity theft will scale as well, and this is none other than another way, sophisticated way, to circumvent credit obligation and responsibility by those who seek to purchase numbers that belong to babies, for the purpose of advancing, gaining material acquisitions.
Incredible. Incredible. And the other two?
Yes sir. Social identity theft is basically the kind that I mastered. And it is uniquely connected to cyber identity theft. Social identity theft is simply the perpetration of identity theft in everyday society. It is the traditional form of identity theft, or stealing one’s identity, and exploiting and maximizing the credentials that are associated there via the instant credit market.
Cyber identity theft directly feeds into social identity theft because cyber identity theft is those things that happens when we get these large data breaches. Small or large data breaches, for that matter. It is the pipeline through which social identity theft is fed. Consumer data is captured in one system, fed into another metric. And as such, identity theft as you know it, and experience it, and read about it on a daily basis, is both social and cyber.
Very interesting, and really concisely put. And this is highly educational for our listeners. So thank you for running us through those four types. Now, two obvious questions… Sorry?
We have one more. Cyber and social are intertwined.
Oh, forgive me. Forgive me.
There’s another that’s flying under the radar, and I brought it to light via my memoir, and it’s called vehicular identity theft.
Vehicular identity theft is simply the stealing of a vehicle VIN number, and ascribing to another vehicle for the purpose of committing insurance fraud through that transaction.
The extent that I can share of the airways without giving too much information in the hopes of not aiding anyone who would dare to commit such a crime, a vehicular identity theft takes the auto thief out the driver seat and puts him or her behind the computer terminal. And what happens here in America is that the VIN numbers of vehicles are listed on websites, autotrader.com, carx.com, and different websites that just has the VIN numbers listed there on. That could be easily accessed by any individual who has a knowledge of how to apply and perpetrate this crime.
When those numbers are displayed publicly like that, that’s a good indication that they are not registered in any system, or insurance company data system. And as such, it is a number that’s vulnerable in terms of how it could be acquired and applied to a different vehicle type, for the purpose of setting up a grand scheme that eventuates, or results in grand theft auto on a scale via the banking system, automobile system, and insurance industry, all at the same time.
How remarkable. Now the two obvious questions that flow from the four different types of identity theft that you’ve outlined so well, Dartanyon, are number one, how can individuals protect themselves against this? There is no form of complete protection, but perhaps the better question is what puts people at risk that they’re able to control? What can they do differently to mitigate this risk?
The average consumer is too cavalier and careless with his or her information. They are too trusting of systems and societies that we entrust this information too, and we walk away hoping, and expecting for that matter, that they would guard it. And as such they should, so that’s not to lessen the responsibility, and for that matter, accountability of those entities, and businesses, and communities that have our information and who should be equipped and capable of safeguarding it.
But individuals can do a number of things, and I’ll have to share, primarily for our listeners in America, the market with which I’m most familiar, and I don’t know to what extent TransUnion, Equifax or Experian extends across the world, but they could simply call these credit reporting agencies, and I’m sure that each country has its own. And put a thought alert in their file. As such, freeze their credit so as to situate it in such a way whereby the identity has to be authenticated before the credits can be granted or accessed.
That goes about 70% to 80% of protecting one’s identity. And that lack of education is what keeps most people subjected to potential or prospective victimisation. But that one step that the average consumer can take to contact a credit reporting agency, a certified credit reporting agency, let me add that, can go a long way in terms of protecting their identities and those of their family members.
How interesting. Such an easy step to take. And the key to this, as you say, is in educating people as widely as possible. The second question, Dartanyon, is do you think that financial institutions are doing enough to protect their customers against this risk?
No sir. I think that financial institutions can do more on the side of consumer education, and it’s about educating. And we know that education is ongoing and evolving, so that inculcation of education has to be very persistent and pragmatic, and very designed and deliberate in terms of you feeding the flow of information to a consumer base as technology advances, and as the different trends and types of crimes and frauds habituate and become unexpectedly part of your consumers’ reality. So it’s about staying ahead of the curve. And banks are not doing enough in that regard, in terms of their consumer education output and programs that need to be put in place to mitigate against, to arm and equip consumers with the tools, power, and resources that are needed to safeguard themselves, and in fact to take responsibility and the initiative in safeguarding themselves in response and reaction to their banks and their financial institutions’ efforts to do their part and more.
I see. That’s very interesting, and I’m sure that many of our listeners working for financial institutions will really take that on board. Well Dartanyon, we are up to our time limit. This has been an extremely timely and welcome conversation, and not least because as you outlined, the incidence of identity theft is going to skyrocket as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. And so I’m delighted that you have agreed to help us to spread the word about that risk through the narrative of your own fascinating story, which as you say, and which needs to be emphasised, is one of redemption. We could easily talk for much, much more time, but I want to thank you on behalf of all our listeners and KYC360 members around the world, for taking the time to share your experiences and thoughts with us, and I wish you all the very best of luck with your run at the Senate. It needs to be populated, frankly, with many more people from many different backgrounds and experiences, if any real meaningful change is going to take place. So best of luck with that.
If you’d like to plug into Dartanyon’s expertise, then all listeners will receive an email with his contact details, and also information about the website where the technology solutions that he referred to can be obtained. Dartanyon does not just consult to law enforcement agencies, but he’s also happy to consult to financial institutions eager to shore up their own defences against exploitation by identity thieves. I’d also highly recommend his book, The Master Identity Thief, which was the number one best selling book on Amazon.
Now if you’d like what you’ve heard today, do spread the message about KYC360 and the Anti Money Laundering Talk Show. This recording will be available as a podcast on KYC360 and many other platforms from tomorrow. During August we’re taking a break, but we’ll be returning in September with an exclusive interview with Edward Kitt, the SOC Net, Serious Organized Crime Network Illicit Finance Policy Lead at the British Embassy in Washington DC. That should be another very interesting discussion. I hope that you can join me then. For now stay safe, have a good summer. I look forward to re-engaging in September. Goodbye.