Meth addicts use Vonage in identity theft ring

 That's meth. A lot of it. A scourge of, and for, our times.
Written by Russell Shaw, Contributor

That's meth. A lot of it. A scourge of, and for, our times. Pix from the Douglas County, Ga. Meth Task Force website

A troubling piece in today's USAToday describes how a small group of methamphetamine addicts in Edmonton, Alberta used Vonage to facilitate their identity theft pursuits.

Identity theft, of course, to get more money to feed their habit.

The piece describes how "Frank," now 22 and back in jail after being caught in the company of a known meth dealer with a credit card swipe machine and laptop in his possession - worked with now-clean addict, Mary, 37 to use Vonage to steal money from hijacked bank accounts in the U.S. and transfer it for their use.

"Frank used stolen credit card numbers to order the tools of their trade online: computers, graphics software to manufacture fake IDs, and online services, such as Vonage phone accounts. Vonage, like other Internet-based phone services, allows subscribers to pick any area code they want. That's useful for ID thieves who want to take control of financial accounts surreptitiously. Mary could order up area codes matching those of the location of breached accounts outside of Edmonton. The numbers appeared to be local, but actually routed back to her."

Obtaining information from international cybercrime rings about vulnerable targets, the pair went to work.

"Milking a victim from Tallahassee, Fla., had become as easy as bilking someone from nearby Banff," write USAToday's Brian Acohido and Jon Swartz.  "Mary could easily attach a Vonage IP phone number, say, with a Tallahassee area code, onto a hijacked account and use PayPal or Western Union to transfer funds across international borders."

This bunch may be out of business, but it would be a fair bet to say there are others committing similar crimes. 


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