Traditional identity theft involves a fraudster posing as a specific party. However, synthetic identity fraud entails a completely phony persona generated with a “hodgepodge” of details, such as one person’s Social Security number, another party’s name and an address unrelated to either, said McKenna, whose company uses artificial intelligence to flag potential fraud.
“That’s growing like crazy,” he said.
The fraudster will apply for credit and begin generating a credit history, potentially bolstering that pedigree by adding the fake identity as an authorized user to an unsuspecting person’s credit card.
Point Predictive sees thousands of synthetic identity scenarios “every month,” McKenna said, possibly accounting for $1.2 billion in fraud alone.
Criminals will search the country for potential dealer targets. “Houston’s a hotbed” of fraud cases, he said.
The Houston Police Department has a unit devoted to investigating fraud at dealerships, according to McKenna, who referenced an investigator there as “having the busiest year of his life.”