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Monday, December 31, 2007

Stolen BUSINESS Identity: An alarming trend

An eye-opening article by Scott Campbell in the latest issue (December 2007) of VARBusiness maganize, available online at Stolen Business Identity: Could It Happen To You?, talks about stealing the identities of business leaders for monetary gains. I do not think this is a fresh phenomenon, but an article raising this issue is certainly welcome to increase awareness.

Doug Green, executive vice president of CCT Technologies, doing business as ComputerLand of Silicon Valley, said he first heard of the alleged scam when a San Diego-based solution provider, Ricoh Business Solutions, called him to inquire about a RFP for 860 Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) inkjet cartridges and 300 Intel (NSDQ:INTC) processors supposedly sent from ComputerLand of Silicon Valley. But Green said he only buys from authorized distributors and had never placed the order.

Upon further investigation, Green discovered that someone had built a Web site ( that closely resembled his company's own real Web site ( It lists the correct street address, but the phone number and e-mail address are not associated with the real ComputerLand of Silicon Valley, he said. "It looks sophisticated for a three-day turnaround from the time we found out about it," Green said.

A call to the phone number listed on the fake Web site was automatically forwarded to a voice mailbox for "Doug Green."

The fake Web site was registered on Sept. 4 and lists a Doug Green in Kentwood, Mich., as the administrator. A man who answered the Michigan phone number listed said he had never heard of Doug Green or ComputerLand of Silicon Valley. He said the phone number was his personal cell number and that the only Web site he had ever registered was for a youth soccer program in Grand Rapids, Mich.

This is really dangerous not only from a business perspective but also from an individual perspective (referring to the Michigan individual whose mobile number was compromised in a scam). I do not think it was difficult for the fraudsters to obtain the mobile number of the MI individual.

Scott McNealy, of Sun Microsystems fame had publicly opined:
The chief executive officer of Sun Microsystems said Monday that consumer privacy issues are a "red herring."

"You have zero privacy anyway," Scott McNealy told a group of reporters and analysts Monday night at an event to launch his company's new Jini technology.

"Get over it."

If a technological business leader makes such an open alarming statement about individual privacy, it certainly is a DANGEROUS road ahead for mankind. :(

While consumers are protected when their identities are stolen for the wrong reasons, a business owner/operator does not have the same privileges as highlighted in "What happens if your business identity is stolen?"
Business identity-theft complaints have been growing steadily since November, says Jay Foley, executive director of the not-for-profit Identity Theft Resource Center in San Diego. Often, they are from mom-and-pop businesses starting to conduct business on the Internet.
"They get ugly," Foley said. "The business has to fight off people who want to collect for these accounts."
Little reliable data on business identity theft exist, experts say, due to the different ways it is reported. Banks find it difficult to tell whether a small business problem is fraud, or related to the company going out of business. Police categorize it as "fraud" rather than "identity theft." The federal identity theft criminal definition does not cover businesses.
Fraudsters, though, easily can get business information through secretary of state offices and the D&B Business Directory.

Sen.Patrick Leahy has introduced a bill in the Senate called as the "The Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act of 2007". A discussion of this bill is provided here : "Identity stolen? Senators want thieves to pay for your troubles". The latest I have heard about this bill is that it has passed the US Senate and is awaiting a decision in the US Congress. A great thing about this bill is that citizens who spend time correcting their post-identity-theft lives to return to the pre-identity-theft scenarios, can be entitled to monetary restitution from the offenders.

While we are on the topic, it certainly is a very welcome sign to hear Greg Garcia, US Cyber-Security Czar welcoming US citizens, residents and visitors to work with DHS to counter cyber-crime.
it's critical for everyone to take cyberrisks seriously, in hopes of meeting his department's ultimate goal: making the United States "the most dangerous place in the real world for cybercriminals to do business."

Thank you Mr.Garcia for this.

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