Identity Theft in Maryland

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1 Identity Theft in Maryland Presentation to the Maryland Commission on Cybersecurity Innovation and Excellence Department of Legislative Services Office of Policy Analysis Annapolis, Maryland November 6, 2013

2 Shifting Circumstances Continuing Challenges Examination of the investigation and prosecution of identity theft in Maryland was based on interviews and assessments of Maryland s five largest jurisdictions: Baltimore City Montgomery County Anne Arundel County Prince George s County Baltimore County Originally, report was intended to analyze the effectiveness of recent State laws During initial factfinding, it was determined that the laws were only part of the story. What was needed was a more holistic approach 1

3 Report Components An abridged discussion of Internet history and awareness of identity theft, federal and state laws and other actions taken at the federal and state levels Discussion of resources allocated to identity theft investigation and prosecution by five largest Maryland jurisdictions Challenges encountered with pursuing and apprehending identity thieves Sentencing outcomes federal and state Approaches to deter identity theft 2

4 Resources Allocated to ID Theft Overall Findings Law enforcement personnel and prosecutors both have limited resources but impacted differently Limited resources of law enforcement decrease the number of cases investigated and effectiveness of investigations Limited resources of prosecutors overcome by using prosecutorial discretion 3

5 Entities Involved in ID Theft Investigation and Prosecution Bank Security Officers Federal Bureau of Investigation Federal Trade Commission Immigrations and Customs Enforcement - Homeland Security Investigations Internal Revenue Service Local Police Departments Local State s Attorney s Offices Maryland State Police Motor Vehicle Administration Office of Attorney General Office of Inspector General Retailers Social Security Administration United States Attorney s Offices U. S. Marshals Service United States Postal Inspection Service United States Secret Service 4

6 Recent ID Theft Schemes Buying gift cards with stolen credit cards scheme Felony lane gang scheme Fraudulent home equity lines of credit scheme Homeless persons and new bank accounts scheme Reshipping work from home scheme

7 Pursuing Identity Thieves Investigating and prosecuting crime of identity theft requires great investment and often little return Data collected supports anecdotal evidence regarding pursuing identity thieves Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Maryland State Commission on Criminal Sentencing Policy Maryland District Court 6

8 National Complaint Data Over past ten years, national complaint totals have more than doubled Maryland in top ten for complaints for past three years In 2012, Maryland complaint totals exceeded 6,000 Government documents/benefits most prevalent type of fraud in Maryland 7

9 District and Circuit Court Data Of 192 circuit court cases over the last ten years subject to Maryland sentencing guidelines, average sentence length less than two years At least two thirds of District Court charges are disposed of by nolle prosequi and being placed on stet docket Identity fraud charges include: Unauthorized Use/Possession of PII Assumption of Identity to Avoid Prosecution Assumption of Identity to Avoid Debt Prohibition Against Pretexting Unauthorized Use/Possession of Reencoder or Skimming Device 8

10 Approaches to Deter Asset forfeiture and seizure Increased public awareness Increased industry cooperation Tracking gift cards Not storing security footage in proprietary formats Sharing compromised account holders contact information Increased technological resources Improving victim and witness participation 9

11 Conclusion Case statistics from circuit courts and the District Court tend to verify anecdotal discussions about the disconnect between the effort required to investigate and prosecute identity theft cases and the relatively small number of convictions (or even specific sentencing outcomes) Identity thieves mutate their schemes quickly to account for law changes, consumer awareness, and re-focusing of law enforcement resources State and federal law enforcement cannot pivot as quickly A network of informal relationships among police, prosecutors, and retailers provides an important advantage that helps law enforcement make headway in preventing identity theft 10

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