They might just look like you or me, but cybercriminals have the ability to ruin lives with their selfish disregard for the livelihoods of others. Our rogues' gallery of some of America's most notorious cyber crime perpetrators will show you just what we mean.
Elizabeth Barrios-Cantillo – aka Elizabeth Caridad Cantillo – is a Hispanic female who was held for Aggravated Identity Theft and Access Device Fraud in 2007. This is, until she broke her bond and absconded with her husband and daughters.
As cybercriminals go, Mrs Barrios-Cantillo and her husband are talented. Both have the skills required to create fake identification as well as access credit reports fraudulently, enabling them to easily steal identities and borrow money in someone else’s name.
Elizabeth Barrios-Cantillo and her husband are clever identity thieves, using their skills to access the credit files of innocent people.
Sadly the ability to forge documentation is becoming more prevalent thanks to the quality of modern printers and availability of suitable inks. This image shows a novelty version of the UK driving license. Although certain elements are moved around to avoid genuine forgery, they are remarkably similar to the real thing.
Dzmitry Valeryevich Burak
Wanted for identity theft and having a modus operandi that reads like something from a cybercrime action movie, Dzmitry Valeryevich Burak is wanted for several counts of identity theft.
Also known as Leon Kurochkin, Wolf Graph Leon, or simply Leon, Burak is described as a computer expert and is wanted in California and New York for various crimes.
As part of an international team of criminals, Burak was involved in a scheme to traffic stolen and counterfeit credit cards, accounting for an astonishing $21 million of losses. Burak also sold stolen credit card numbers and other information pertaining to his victims, defrauding credit card companies for more than $1 million.
Credit Card Crime
More and more credit and bank debit cards are the focus of cyber crime, which is why many services now offer an additional level of protection when using your card online. If you have made a purchase recently you might have noticed how major credit card providers are offering a password entry screen where you sign directly into their services in order to safely and correctly authenticate your card. This is done over a secure connection.
You can tell whether or not a connection is secure by checking your browser's address bar. The URL should read https://www... as opposed to the usual http://www... and in modern browsers the address bar highlights this.
If you have ever been ripped off on eBay, the chances are you came across Jie Dong, or someone operating a similar scam.
Wanted for fraudulent behavior resulting in around $800,000 in losses for his victims, Dong sold merchandise to 5000 victims but allegedly never shipped the items. He apparently then fled the USA and is now believed to be in Hong Kong.
There is little to stop similar crimes from being committed even now, several years later. As a result, you should always check the reputation of the person you’re purchasing from, as well as spend a few moments Googling their auction site username to look for anything that gives good reason not to trust the seller.
As long as you spend a few moments of your time checking the reputation of people on auction sites, you should be able to get a quick idea of how safe the transactions is likely to be.
Any auction site worth using will offer a service such as this, but for the best results you should stick to eBay, where reputations are based on positive customer feedback. You can see in this example that the seller has achieved 100% positive feedback including 10 high ratings in the past 12 months. This is exactly the sort of thing you should be looking for, as well as feedback from other people who have recently done business with the seller.
Linda Marie Hieb
Wanted on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, credit card fraud, and identity theft, Linda Marie Hieb (also known by the pseudonyms Linda Marie Bessette and Linda Marie Jones) perpetrated her crimes within the state of California, although it is suspected that her victims can be found across a much larger area.
Identity theft is the first step into cyber-crime – without it, it is difficult to commit credit card and bank fraud as Hieb is believed to have done. This is why protecting your identity is important.
One of the strengths of the Internet is also its biggest weakness. Anonymity leads to many people getting away with terrible online crimes such as card fraud and identity theft, both of which are often made possible by varying phishing techniques such as fake emails or websites.
Fake emails regularly include links to fake websites, designed to look like the real thing but also requesting your full name, address, date of birth and other identifiable information. Banks will never email their customers requesting them to sign in, sign up or renew their accounts - after all, banks rarely request email addresses.
Learning to recognize fakes like this is the best way to avoid being taken in.
Tobechi Enyinna Onwuhara
As part of a larger group of Nigerians, Tobechi Enyinna Onwuhara is wanted for fraudulent banking activity in New York and Texas, using online databases to steal identities.
Exactly how this has been achieved isn’t known, but as there are many online accounts and these should all be securely stored in databases, a certain amount of hacking must have been employed. Databases could mean anything from the information stored as part of a Yahoo! account (which would include dates and towns of birth) or even data available on a genealogy website. The stolen identities were then used to gain access to credit accounts and transfer the money overseas.
Information about the whereabouts of Tobechi Enyinna Onwuhara is worth $25,000 to the FBI providing that and arrest and conviction can be made.
Safe Password Management
There are various ways in which you can avoid identity theft, but with the never-ending risk that external data stores might get hacked you need to be certain that your online accounts are safe. While phishing is something that we can learn to recognize, we have very little control over how websites secure our personal data.
Your best course of action here is to regularly change your passwords, and if possible your usernames. If you have a lot of accounts you might opt to purchase or download a password manager which will help you to keep track of everything - controlled by a master password, of course!