Over night, Simon Bunce, a normal man lost his six figure job, the respect of his peers, friends, and family over night, after being arrested, and branded as a pedophile. Someone stole his credit card online and purchased child pornography. (Sigsworth ). This is one of the many cases of extreme, online identity theft. Online identity theft is when someone gets access to photos, personal accounts, even social security numbers, then use these online without the rightful owner knowing.
Thousands of people have experienced this living nightmare, ruining their lives forever. Simon Bruce could not get a job for months but when he did, it only paid a quarter of his former salary. This is a colossal overlooked problem that needs to be fixed. Online identity theft is a astronomical problem and some possible solutions are to not use social media, get more protective online websites, specializing passwords to eyes, fingers prints, face scans, and trying to take down illegal sites.
A type of online identity theft is online kidnapping. Online kidnapping is when an adult takes a child’s photo and pretend to either be them, use them for branding, pretend that the child is theirs, using the child’s pictures for profit or using the child’s picture to manipulate others.
Most of the victims are preyed on because of their parents posting too many pictures of the victims. “In a 2016 study, parents shared an average of 116 photos of their kids. ” (Hu ).
The main source that predators use to acquire the photos are social media sites like Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook. “90% of children have photos on social media by the age of 2.” (Hu ) This proves at how at risk a typical child will be for online kidnapping. The problem keeps on growing because it is not a talked about subject. The effects of digital kidnapping can be ruthless.
The sons of Jeremy and Sara Thompson are one prime example of this. It started when an email from the older son to Peterson (a citizen who reported the crime) of child porn of the younger son. On May 4 the Snohomish County sheriff’s office knocked on the Thompson’s door to arrest their 17 year old of sexually abusing their 11 year old son. There was strong evidence that the FBI found, videos, images, and chat logs. They instigated into the oldest son when a pedophile was arrested and had alleged videos of the Thompson child on his computer. After his arrest they looked at his laptop, phone, social media and whatever had internet access and found nothing that could have linked him to the crime. The 17 year old’s identity was stolen and someone created a profile for him that sends child porn to various people.
The predator was stalking him for years and found videos that looked very similar to him and his brother. (Sullivan ) This is an example of how bad online identity theft can go, it can change someone’s life drastically. A solution to this may to be stopping using social media. If there was less photos to no photos online this would never be an issue. The stop of social media will stop both the platform in which they take the photos and where they gather the photos. However, this is an impossible solution. The influence of social media is huge and only gaining more numbers per day. The stop of social media will not stop and will continue to be a huge influence in the day to day life, and will continue to be a place where these predators gather.
Online identity theft is a huge growing problem, because of it being online and no one getting hurt physically so it often gets over looked by the public and police authorities. “Identity theft hit a record high in 2017, with hackers only getting more sophisticated gaining toeholds into poorly secured accounts as a way to access more important segments of the victim’s financial life, according to a just-released annual survey.” (Kristof ). This proves how fast the problem is growing and that no one is doing anything to try to stop them. “With each blocker they find a way around it some even find ways to use it to their advantages the most ever.”(Kristof ).
That is not a number that shouldn’t be looked at lightly especially with the number only growing. Each hack can cost someone up to thousands of dollars, 5 percent of people age sixteen and older lost more then 17 billion dollars so each victim was robbed of at least 10,000 dollars. People will get these information off of credit cards by emails, phishing (asking financial institutions about certain information), skimming (manipulation of a credit card processing machines by inserting a devise), stealing purses, sending false emails, conning (making you verify fake questions to gain information before signing something, and many other things.
Some hackers use other people’s identity to buy illegal things so it isn’t their identity getting found out of they are caught. A main example of this was Simon Bunce. His hacker used him so that he could get the accused of child porn easier and for free. A way to fix this on going problem is to get updated software that is required for everyone to have, with frequent updating. This could be a hood solution because it would be harder fo hackers and would take the highest
technology to get through the systems to allow the theft. This may not be the best solution because hackers will always learn how to keep updating their ways of hacking. They will use whatever it takes in order to get what they want, when they want, and how they want.
This white-collar crime has been going on for as long as credit cards have existed. They not only aim for individuals, but they will go after companies as well. “Direct Premiums written totaled $1.86 billion in 2017, at companies that can report premiums for stand-alone and coverage provided as part of a package policies.”(Facts and Statistics: Identity theft and cybercrime ) This shows the amount of money that can be taken from business and individuals. Of course, different states are more at risk of this crime then some.
The top five states for victims of cybercrime is “ 1st California, 2nd Florida, 3rd Texas, 4th New York and 5th Pennsylvania.” (Facts and Statistics: Identity theft and cybercrime) These crimes are only growing as well with things like social media becoming more and more popular. Since people show off money, cars, and designer items only some will target these people. “Through November in 2018, 340 million records were exposed in June from Exacticz, a marketing firm; 150 million were exposed at Under Armour; 92 million at MyHertiage, a genealogy firm; and 87 million records at Facebook.” (Facts and Statistics: Identity theft and cybercrime )
This shows that criminals will aim for victims information that is given in profiles, and how social media has affected this way of theft. Social media, and accounts for stores, doctors, banking, and so on, have made it easier to gain private information. If companies do not keep people’s information secure outburst will happen with millions of people’s information getting stolen. They will gather basic information then apply the information to other accounts to gain more, and more information. A way to prevent this is specializing account passwords to thing like fingerprints, eyes, and voice. This will make only the person have access to the account. No one has the same fingerprints, or eyes as you and a criminal would not have access to finding these records, or faking them.
Criminals take up online identity theft as a job, and sell others identity on the dark web. The dark web is secretive place online where criminals will buy and sell illegal things. The dark web started when the original website where criminals lured, Shadowcrew, was took down by federal agents in 2004. The dark web specializes in selling drugs, weapons, stolen vehicles, ways to hack accounts, and even goes as a place you can hire a hit man.
The dark web also has places you can watch victims get raped, torture, and murdered. “The video flickers to life. A bedroom, nondescript. A masked woman. Hanging above the bed, tied with rough rope by her ankles, a child, or toddler rather, no more than two years old, screams in fear and agony. ‘This is just a teaser. Let me know if you want to see the rest of it.’ The invitation is signed ‘Lux’” (Ormsby ). This is an example of a website that lured people in to watch gruesome acts upon other people.
Along with these awful crimes, it is a hot spot for the buying and selling of people’s identities. All that is needed to get private information could simply just be a first and last name. “Brett asked me my wife’s name and, within a few moments, found her Social Security number, available for all of $2.99. The website he found it on claimed to have over 170 million Social Security numbers and dates of birth for sale.” (Shadel, Wertheimer ). This proves how criminals will sell information in mass amounts, and for a low price, making it easy for others to
stalk or steal from unknowing victims. The profits of selling these accounts can be huge, with a low risk of getting caught. A way to prevent this is trying to take down and monitor the dark web. There needs to be blockers and federal agents watching websites. This would be hard to maintain with how big the intervener is, but with how technology is advancing it could be very possible in the future.
Online identity theft is a huge and growing problem in today’s society. “16.7 million individuals were affected by ID theft in 2017, the most ever.” (Kristof ). Criminals will find a victims private information, and each criminal has different strategies of getting the information. Thieves will use this information for a variety of different things, a lot us that it is someone else’s identity to their advantage and buy illegal things. When criminals buy illegal things a lot of victims get falsely accused of committing the crime of purchasing the illegal item.
Some criminals also making stealing citizens’ identities as an occupation. They will steal then sell the victims information online on the dark web, a website where crimes are rapidly happening. The information is easy to purchase and can have scary effects for the victim. With this enormous, ongoing problem there is solutions. The most possible solutions are stopping social media, frequently update websites so they are harder to hack, specializing passwords to eyes and finger prints, and stopping illegal websites.