Big but not so clever -- ID fraudsters go for quantity over quality

A new report reveals that 'less sophisticated' fraud -- in which doctored identity documents are readily spotted -- has jumped 37 percent in 2022.

The report from Onfido also shows that while in 2019 fraudsters tended to keep regular office hours, in 2022, fraud levels were consistent across 24 hours, seven days a week. Thanks to technology, fraudsters are more connected across the globe and are able to traverse regions and time zones, and can easily take advantage of businesses’ closed hours when staff are likely offline.

"As criminals look to take advantage of digitization processes, they're able to commit financial crimes with increasing efficiency and sophistication, to the extent that financial crime and cybercrime are now invariably linked," says Malik Alibegovic, forensic analyst at criminal intelligence agency Interpol, in the foreword of Onfido's report. "A significant amount of financial fraud takes place through digital technologies, and the pandemic has only hastened the emergence of digital money laundering tools and other cyber-enabled financial crimes."

Fraud rings are making thousands of variations of the same document by tweaking minor details each time in an attempt to create thousands of fake accounts. Using Onfido's Repeat Attempts verification tool, one company identified 300 documents submitted with the same document number combined with slightly different attributes over a three month period.

Biometrics do act as a deterrent, however, 83 percent fewer attacks occurred on systems requiring biometrics compared to documents, suggesting fraudsters are seeking easier gains.

The report shows 85 percent of all fraud is estimated to be linked to synthetic identity fraud -- where a fake ID is created by combining real personal information bought from the Dark Web with fabricated personal information. It also shows that synthetic IDs are more likely to be of men than women, and fraudsters are opting to use names of fictional characters, from TV shows for example.

"Less sophisticated fraud jumped 23 percent this year to 72.9 percent, pointing to fraud becoming a matter of quantity over quality as fraudsters are opting to attack systems en masse. Fraudsters can produce low-quality fake documents in the thousands, launch an attack, and hope one slips through a business's defenses," says Simon Horswell, fraud specialist at Onfido. "The flood of attacks can distract businesses from the rarer, but more sophisticated fraud. This is why automating fraud detection to prevent ‘less sophisticated’ fraud from slipping through is key, so businesses can protect themselves at scale while focusing key resources on more advanced attacks."

The full report is available from the Onfido site.

Image credit: sqback/

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