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Financial Fraud and Identity Theft

Fraud and identity theft victimizes consumers, businesses, financial institutions and public agencies through a broad array of sophisticated scams to cheat victims of money or property. This Office prosecutes identity theft, telemarketing fraud, corporate fraud, mortgage fraud, fraud on financial institutions, government contracting fraud, tax fraud, investment and business fraud, insurance fraud such as staged automobile accident fraud and arson for profit, bankruptcy fraud, investment fraud schemes involving securities and commodities, and internet fraud.

Identity theft harms all socioeconomic groups, and targets individuals as well as financial institutions. Individual victims whose identities are used in fraud schemes often suffer significant aggravation and financial losses. Because modern commerce is depersonalized, many individual victims suffer lasting harm. Adverse information connected to their names, social security numbers and addresses in credit report files and other databases may compromise their ability to obtain credit and even employment. Identity fraud also imposes large financial losses on financial institutions, government agencies, and countless large and small businesses that are defrauded.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) estimates that the annual financial loss caused by identity theft are on the order of $17.3 billion in 2007 and 2008, and much of the cost is passed on to consumers through higher prices for goods and services. According to BJS, approximately five percent of all Americans over the age of 16 were victims of identity theft between 2007 and 2008. Identity theft impacts all people of all income levels, and ages. Incidents of reported identity theft were twice as prevalent among the wealthiest households when compared with the poorest, and over 50% more likely among the young (those between the ages of 16 and 24) than seniors (aged 65 or above).

In order to combat identity theft, the District of Maryland established an Identity Theft Working Group in October 2006. Our working group includes state, federal and local investigators and prosecutors, as well as financial institution fraud investigators. The working group meets every other month and seeks to highlight the scope of the problem, enhance coordination within law enforcement and with the private sector victims, provide training for investigators, and identify effective ways to prevent, investigate and prosecute identity theft. The working group sponsors two full-day training sessions each year. Assistant United States Attorneys Tamera Fine from the Northern Division and Christen Sproule from the Southern Division of the District of Maryland serve as contact points for the Working Group. They can be reached by calling 410-209-4800 and 301-344-4433, respectively.

The District of Maryland has achieved significant increases in the number of identity theft prosecutions, including cases initially opened as fraud cases in which identity theft was subsequently identified and charged. In addition, we have been able to identify large identity theft organizations operating in Maryland, allowing us to focus federal resources on such groups. The success of the program is reflected in part in the increase in federal criminal prosecutions for identity theft violations:

  • FY05 16 cases 34 defendants
  • FY06 30 cases 61 defendants
  • FY07 38 cases 65 defendants
  • FY08 43 cases 85 defendants
  • FY09 41 cases 74 defendants
  • FY10 40 cases 104 defendants

The U.S. Attorney’s Office also works with state and federal agencies to pursue civil and criminal remedies against perpetrators of mortgage fraud. In support of our efforts to hold more con artists accountable and deter similar conduct, we established a joint state/federal Maryland Mortgage Fraud Task Force. The task force brings together the agencies that regulate and investigate mortgage fraud in order to coordinate our enforcement actions, identify appropriate cases for criminal investigation and secure resources to prosecute them. The Task Force’s goals include pursuing asset forfeiture and securing restitution for victims, and warning the public about common schemes and related financial crimes.

Useful Links

For additional information about mortgage fraud, visit the FBI's mortgage fraud web page.  

To report suspected mortgage fraud, please contact one of these investigative agencies: 

FBI  

U.S. Postal Inspection Service

Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division

Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General  

Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation  

Maryland Office of the Attorney General  

Recent Federal Fraud and Identity Theft Prosecutions in Maryland

 

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