The difference between synthetic and real identity theft

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

Synthetic and real identity theft are two very different categories of crimes that occur in North Dakota. Both are on the rise, but synthetic identity theft uses a variety of tactics that make it difficult for financial institutions to detect and law enforcement to prosecute.

What is synthetic identity theft?

Synthetic identity theft occurs when someone combines real and fake information to create a new identity. The real information is stolen, often from sites on the dark web, and then combined with the new information to open new accounts and make fraudulent purchases. It is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the United States.

How synthetic identity theft works

Many individuals who partake in synthetic identity theft use fake identity accounts responsibly for a time to build a credit score and history. The next step typically involves piling up fraudulent charges and then using the real portion of the information to pose as a fraud victim to get the account restored. Synthetic identity theft uses multiple information sources, including names, Social Security numbers, and other data, combined with multiple accounts, often keeping accounts open for years before fraud necessitating a criminal defense strategy is detected.

Not all forms of synthetic identity theft are not motivated to steal money from financial institutions. Often, illegal immigrants who don’t have green cards are caught up in this scheme as they merely want access to bank accounts and credit cards that allow them to purchase items and build credit. Nevertheless, these actions are still illegal.

Minimizing the effect of identity theft charges

When financial institutions finally detect synthetic identity theft, the charges against a defendant can become considerable. Identity theft is a federal crime that carries stiff penalties. Therefore, fighting these charges requires aggressive representation.

The consequences could be even more severe for immigrants who may have knowingly or unknowingly engaged in synthetic identity theft. Prosecutors may report your case to immigration officials, who may then start separate proceedings against you. Those who were unaware that their accounts were illegal will need to consider additional steps they must take to minimize the consequences.