ID fraud rises dramatically in Georgia; state ranked second in 2011

Identity theft is a matter of growing concern in Georgia, especially in metropolitan areas, where authorities say that fraud committed by appropriating the identity of another person is decidedly on the rise.

Identity fraud is often a central element in other types of fraud cases, including bank fraud, mortgage fraud and insurance fraud. For example, an innocent third party’s identity is stolen in increasing instances of mortgage fraud schemes and utilized by straw buyers or straw sellers in equity skimming and other scams.

According to Georgia police statistics, ID fraud and theft crimes have increased dramatically in many Atlanta-area counties just over the past year. In Fulton and Cobb counties, for examples, authorities note a doubling of reported offenses. Gwinnett County has reportedly seen an increase of more than 30 percent in ID theft crimes.

That sharp rise made Georgia the number two state in the country last year for identity theft complaints, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Starting in 2008, but lasting only for a year owing to budget cuts, an identity theft task force from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation had jurisdiction to investigate ID theft crimes. These days, local police agencies take the lead, with many of them saying they are having trouble keeping up, owing to the fact that many identity fraud schemes are conducted through the Internet or by phone solicitations.

One Gwinnett County police spokesperson attributes much of the rise in ID theft-related crimes to the underperforming economy and corresponding lack of opportunity for many people to obtain employment or fulfill their various payment obligations.

An identity fraud charge in Georgia can bring harsh exactions, with a conviction providing for up to 10 years of prison time in some instances, along with stringent fines that can range all the way up to $100,000.

An experienced white collar criminal defense attorney can answer questions and provide further information concerning an identity theft charge in the context of a bank fraud, mortgage fraud or other fraud-related matter.

Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Identity fraud cases show significant increases,” Evan Bedard, July 23, 2012