As identity theft and fraud become major moneymakers for criminals, the profile of a typical identity thief is changing. According to a study from the Center for Identity Management and Information Protection (An Analysis of Federal Case Data for the Years 2008 through 2013), criminals are designing new means for committing such crimes.
Between 2008 and 2013, 89.1 percent of convicted offenders in the 1,306 U.S. cases with an identity theft component were convicted on charges of “Identity Theft,” which was followed by offenders convicted on charges of “Bank Fraud” (22.6 percent) and “Tax Fraud” (16.7 percent). The highest percentage of offenders from a single state was Florida, followed by California.
More than 40 percent of the offenders were between the ages of 35 and 49. The rate of 18- to 24-year-old offenders has decreased since the last CIMIP study in 2007, from 18.5 percent to just 9.1 percent. Most offenders were of legal status born within the United States (86.7 percent); 7.2 percent were foreign but of legal status, and 6.1 percent were illegal. Approximately two-thirds of offenders were male.
Most identity thieves today were found to be operating as part of criminal groups rather than by themselves, and identity criminals are leaning more toward technology to help commit their crimes. In the 2007 study, the Internet or technological devices were used in 49.1 percent of cases. In the 2015 study, they were used in 62.84 percent of crimes.
There is also a rise in criminals focusing on individuals rather than businesses as the point of compromise – in the 2007 study, more than 50 percent of cases used businesses as the point of compromise. Now, 21.9 percent of offenders commit identity fraud crimes starting with a business. Personal mail, especially, has been a key target for criminals to gain information about potential victims.