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8/15/2008
06:15 AM
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LA Street Gangs Add ID Theft to Turf

California sees surge in 'Crips,' 'Mexican Mafia,' and other gangs going into the identity theft business

It’s not just Eastern European or Asian cyber gangs -- gangs from the streets of L.A. and other cities better known for drugs and weapons violence are now turning to identity theft crimes as well, according to a published report .

Cases of identity theft reportedly involving a chapter of the ‘Crips’ from Long Beach, Calif., Armenian Power, and Mexican Mafia gangs, have demonstrated that ID theft is no longer the domain of international computer hackers, for instance. Gang-related ID theft was part of the 31 percent jump in ID theft complaints in California last year, according to a new report from Identity Theft 911.

California is a big fat target for ID theft: around 1.5 million Californians were victims of this crime last year, according to the report, and credit-card fraud is the main culprit. Next is employment fraud, including Social Security number (SSN) thefts for undocumented workers.

Experts say street gangs are finding ID theft an easy way to make a buck. In a recent case being investigated by California’s Department of Consumer Affairs, a former personnel specialist there, Rachel Dumbrique, sent names and SSNs of 5,000 people on the state’s payroll to a personal Yahoo email account on her last day at the agency. She says she didn’t know SSNs were in the file, but investigators are looking at the case closely because she’s the wife of an imprisoned gang member of Mexican Mafia.

Meanwhile, a group affiliated with the Long Beach Insane Crips gang allegedly sole nearly $90,000 from a local financial institution in a check-cashing scam.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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