Meth addicts hack into identity theft
By Jon Swartz, USA TODAY
SAN FRANCISCO — Methamphetamine addicts are using the Internet to commit identity theft, law-enforcement officials and medical experts in the USA and Canada say.
By Tim Dillon, USA TODAY
Meth is a highly addictive, cheap alternative to cocaine and heroin. Meth addicts — already adept at stealing personal information from mailboxes to finance drug habits — now are hacking PCs to steal information, says Bob Gauthier, a detective in the Edmonton, Alberta, Police Service's meth project team.
In the USA, the problem is increasing "in complexity and size" in the West and Midwest, says Robert Brown, agent-in-charge of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. He says meth addicts also are participating in phishing e-mail scams and selling stolen goods on auction sites. Many are employed by ID theft rings run by non-drug users, he says. (Story: Counties say meth is top drug threat (July 5))
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., has introduced a bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee that asks the Justice Department to investigate a link between ID theft and meth use. "The meth epidemic is creating a wave of identity theft," she says. Among recent cases:
• In western Canada, a 21-year-old female meth addict was arrested this month in possession of 3,357 stolen credit card numbers, Gauthier says. The numbers came from a U.S. clothier's website in October 2003, Gauthier says. It is unclear how much the woman spent on the stolen cards, or how many she sold, he says.
• A man under investigation on suspicion of hacking into retail sites and stealing credit card numbers was arrested by Sunnyvale, Calif., police last month and charged with forging government checks, says James Sibley, head of the Santa Clara County District Attorney's high-technology crime unit. The man also is suspected of buying and selling credit card numbers and names on the Internet, Sibley says.
The paranoid, adrenaline-fueled culture of so-called speeders, and the drug's effects make users likely candidates as ID thieves, medical experts say. Meth addicts can stay up for days performing menial tasks, such as testing the validity of credit card numbers on websites and buying goods online.
"It's like an ant colony," says S. Alex Stalcup, medical director at the New Leaf Treatment Center in Northern California. He has toured several houses where tasks are divided among more than a dozen people. "From floor to ceiling, there are stolen goods such as PCs, digital cameras, household appliances and car parts," he says.
In a survey about the impact of meth use on local crime, more than a quarter of 500 county sheriff departments said it had contributed to a rise in ID theft, says the National Association of Counties, which represents county governments.
That increase has forced local authorities to beef up operations. Jefferson County (Colo.) District Attorney Scott Storey says the county this year started an economic crime unit and a second grand jury to handle such cases.
Well duh! It's common knowledge that tweekers do identity theft and counterfiet checks/ID's.
2 Things I fuckin hate- Drug addicts and thieves.....