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Identify theft & Mortgage Fraud

How would you feel if the Sherriff appeared at your doorstep one day and evicted you from your own home, tossing all of your possessions on the curb? 

It's happened, and in some areas, the victims many never get their homes back:

"In the latest twist in the fast-growing problem of identity theft, homeowners are astonished to find that thieves not only have stolen their personal information, but have used it to open home-equity loans or, in some extreme cases, sold the home without the homeowner's knowledge"

With no "positive" methods of identification, crooks are having a field day stealing from homeowners across North America. 

Can you be positively identified?

The closest remedy for positive ID verification is this database that has photo images from all USA drivers licenses.  You can enter your name and verify your drivers license photo using this system.  As you see, it has a few bugs, but it's a really great concept for positive identify verification.

Identity theft and mortgage fraud are easy today

In a new spin on identity theft, criminals are now obtaining mortgages on other peoples houses, taking the money, and having the innocent victims evicted.  They tend to prey on homeowners and the elderly.

In Canada, this man lost his house because a mortgage company accepted a fake Power of Attorney document.  Sadly, under Canada law, he may never get his home back:

"Paul Reviczky, who was recently shocked to learn that the thieves, using a fraudulent power of attorney, had sold the home he had owned since 1980 to an unsuspecting purchaser, and that under Ontario law he may never get it back."

But it's not just a problem in foreign countries.  This Texas couple came home from vacation to find the locks on his house changed, and new owners in his house:

"When the two returned to Frisco, Texas, several days later, their keys didn't work. The locks on the house had been changed.

They spent their first night back sleeping in a walk-in closet, with a steel pipe ready to cold-cock any intruders. The next day, they met the man who thought he owned their house, because he had put a $12,000 down payment to someone named Carlos Ramirez. The Cooks went to the Denton County Courthouse and checked their title."

The article also notes that it is the mortgage lender who must lose-out in the mortgage fraud:

“Because the money is actually stolen from the lender, identity-theft victims aren't liable to repay the lost funds and don't lose their homes. It's the lenders who are out of luck.”

This article notes another case where identity thieves had stolen a home via mortgage fraud:

"But when the couple tried to sell the property, they discovered some shocking and disturbing news: their home had already been sold.

An unknown man forged their signatures to sale documents, and without their knowledge or permission, registered himself as the rightful owner of the property. He then took out two mortgages on the property, receiving $62,000 in loans, before disappearing without a trace."

The increasing scope of identity theft and mortgage fraud

This article notes that stealing peoples homes without their knowledge has become a multi-million dollar business, and the identify theft can occur from job applications in the wrong hands:

"A grand jury has indicted six people in an alleged scheme to obtain more than $5.7 million in mortgages and multimillion-dollar lines of credit by falsifying documents and obtaining personal information from people who thought they were applying for jobs.

According to indictments handed up Tuesday and made public Wednesday, members of the group provided false information on loan applications, faked employment verifications and doctored financial documents. "

The solution to identify theft is simple

The moral of the story is clear.  It's very easy to forge legal documents today, and more positive identifications methods are required.  In my work as a consultant, I've created drivers licenses for legitimate governments, and after seeing the technology first-hand, I see how easy it is to duplicate any official document.

The core problem with identify theft is our antiquated 20th century technology, and updating ID with biometrics (like fingerprints, retinal images or DNA, that can be easily stored in Oracle databases) can easily solve the problem. 

Unfortunately, criminals are resisting positive identification under the guise of "right to privacy", when the real reason is that their fingerprints and DNA might be used to catch them in a "cold case" sting.  In reality, nobody but the bad guys have anything to fear from fingerprinting and DNA identification. 

What are we doing to fight identity theft?

Until Americans learn that revealing their DNA of retinal images is not a privacy violation, identity theft will continue to be a problem.  Fortunately, there is some relief in sight:

  • Some more enlightened countries are now issuing biometric passports.
  • Credit card companies will soon issue biometric credit cards, where you must place your thumb on the back of the card to activate it.
  • Oracle is working with the Indian government to create a National ID card with positive Identification.


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