By Peter Rudegeair and AnnaMaria Andriotis
From a townhouse near a megachurch in Atlanta, Kelvin Lyles recruited about 300 accomplices to embark on a crime spree. His group scammed ATMs, internet retailers and credit-card companies, grabbing around $350,000, until late 2015, when federal agents closed in.
Mr. Lyles was the only one convicted. None of his accomplices existed.
In a twist on ID theft, criminals are deploying figments of their imaginations, in what is often called synthetic-identity fraud. It’s one of the fastest growing forms of identity crimes, the Justice Department says, and among the hardest to combat.
Because the person taking out cards or loans isn’t real, there are no consumer victims to alert lenders. When companies and law enforcement discover something amiss, they often wind up chasing ghosts. Mr. Lyles secured credit cards often using fictional names and numbers the Social Security Administration hadn’t yet assigned.
Read the full article here.