Identity fraud gets more sophisticated, pointing to organized crime involvement


In the last year, 47 percent of all identity document fraud was classed as 'medium' sophisticated, a 57 percent increase over the previous 12 months.

A report from identity verification and authentication company Onfido says this points to organized groups attempting to create 'verified' accounts with fake documents before using them to embark on other types of fraud.

Identity theft losses increased 42 percent in 2020, reaching $712 billion, making digital identity verification critical for enterprises. As more transactions have moved online due to the pandemic, fraudsters have followed, in 2020, there was a 41 percent increase in ID fraud, with the average ID fraud rate reaching 5.8 percent. In the last year that rate has been 5.9 percent indicating no return to pre-pandemic levels.

"Large-scale operations often undertaken by criminal fraud rings have the resources to conduct sophisticated fraud such as deepfakes, 2D and 3D masks. They might also resort to techniques like coercion. Businesses will see fewer of these types of attacks, but they can cause the most damage in the shortest space of time," says Michael Van Gestel, head of global document fraud at Onfido. "By incorporating biometric authentication and other sophisticated identity verification methods, businesses can ensure that no matter how fraudsters try to capitalize on the changing situation, they can significantly lower the risk of fraud to their organization and customers."

Among the report's other findings are that fraudsters have moved away from the standard working week, with weekend attacks increasing by over 50 percent since 2019. Retail fraud has also increased by 36 percent year on year, making it one of the most attacked industries, ahead of financial and professional services.

Passports have overtaken national identity cards as the most frequently attacked form of identification. On a more positive note though biometrics are proving effective, with fewer fraudsters attempting to overcome biometric verification checks than document checks. The average document fraud rate for 2021 was 5.9 percent, compared to 1.53 percent for selfies and just 0.17 percent for videos.

The full report is available from the Onfido site.

Image credit: tashatuvango/

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