CNN Presents Reveals Blueprint of Modern-Day Bank Robberies
How to Rob a Bank Details How Thieves Exploit Stolen Identities to Bilk Banks, Cheat Credit Card Companies
If Bonnie and Clyde were alive today, they would not be using guns for their heists. Instead, they would probably use stolen identities - the modern method for looting bank accounts, laundering checks and defrauding credit card companies.
Drawing on documents from criminal cases, surveillance tapes and immigration records, as well as interviews with law enforcement agents, victims and criminals, CNN Presents goes inside the murky world of identity theft to expose what the bandits do after stealing identities. The documentary HOW TO ROB A BANK premieres on Saturday, May 20, at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. (All times Eastern).
While banks bear most of the immediate financial loss from identity theft, consumers spend an average of 40 hours cleaning up their credit. Ultimately, all consumers pay for bank fraud. HOW TO ROB A BANK, reported by CNN investigative correspondent Drew Griffin, focuses on Houston, home to some of the nation′s most resourceful and successful identity thieves. The criminals stay one step ahead of the law by constantly adapting their ingenious schemes, leading U.S. Postal Inspector Matthew Boyden to tell CNN, "It′s evolution at its finest."
By dissecting these lucrative financial frauds, HOW TO ROB A BANK exposes:
How two former NFL players joined a Nigerian-led identity theft ring that defrauded Bank One (now JP Morgan Chase & Co.) of $12 million. The ringleaders used detailed customer information obtained from rogue bank employees to drain large accounts. "Instead of blowing through the front doors of a bank, guns a-blazing, they took my identity," one victim says. "That was their mask."
How one identity thief used a fraudulently obtained credit card with a mere $500 credit limit to scam Bank of America out of more than $3,000. When the crook was finally nabbed, he had 115 credit cards in his possession - in every name but his own - and more than $580,000 in cash. "He wasn′t employed," says Mike Kelly a Harris County, Texas, investigator. "Or, I guess you could say he was self-employed."
How an e-mail scheme known as "phishing" tricked hundreds of AOL subscribers into divulging enough personal information to bilk banks, brokerage firms, credit card companies and retailers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and merchandise. The fraudsters see it as a victimless crime. "I still feel it′s worse to steal from an individual, than it is to steal from a bank," Jason Carpenter tells CNN, as he begins a 17-year sentence in a federal prison.
How stolen identities were used as fronts to launder six-figure checks stolen from several prominent Houston corporations. How did it happen? In this case, the mastermind had a phony Notary Public stamp to "authenticate" documents needed to open the accounts. In fact, Notary Public regulations in Texas are so lax that, for $25 CNN was able to buy a notary stamp for a fictitious person named "I.D. Thief."
"Identity theft is now the most common way to steal from a bank," said Mark Nelson, senior executive producer for CNN Presents. "In this documentary, we expose the secrets of the trade and the high level of organization and sophistication of modern identity thieves."
CNN Presents: HOW TO ROB A BANK was produced by senior producer Andy Segal. The managing editor was Kathy Slobogin. The principle photographer was William Walker. The videotape editors were Mike Chedwick and Claire Cibik. A companion Web site, http://www.CNN.com/Presents, will offer tips on how consumers can protect themselves. CNN Presents is the most honored documentary series in cable television news.
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