Dark web aids identity theft

A stolen vehicle has been recovered from Brussels after a cross-border investigation involving identity theft on the dark web.

Presenting a huge challenge to law enforcement agencies, the dark web is primarily a marketplace for illicit activities where there are no rules or safeguards and almost anything can be traded including people, identities and drugs with little chance of being caught.

The latest case came about after fraudsters used stolen identities – offered for sale on the dark web – to report a collision between a Mercedes S-Class and a Range Rover Evoque in South East London, says anti-motor fraud expert, APU Ltd.

After securing a high value replacement car following the fictitious accident, the criminals triggered an alert from its telematics device as it approached the Channel Tunnel – often a sign a vehicle is about to leave the country – sparking a cross-border investigation.

APU Ltd moved to track down the driver and vehicle because in most cases permission to travel abroad is required. However, the vehicle was traced to Brussels, and efforts to contact the person believed to have hired the replacement vehicle failed.

Field-based investigators were sent to the home address of the person who apparently hired the vehicle, while Thomas and a colleague drove to Brussels to locate and, if required, recover the car.

It was discovered that the vehicle driver had disabled the inbuilt telematics system and tracker, leaving only APU’s secondary technology in place, but this allowed APU to pinpoint the vehicle to a residential address in Ghent.

Meanwhile the field-based team discovered that the man thought to have hired the vehicle was completely unaware of the unfolding drama, so the car was seized by APU and brought back to the UK.

Both drivers alleged to have been involved in the original collision had now been contacted and ruled out as potential suspects of the vehicle theft. They were in fact victims of fraud.

The dark web is fuelling a surge in organised crime involving identity theft and insurance fraud according to APU Ltd.

The fraud and theft have been reported to the National Fraud Reporting Centre and the Insurance Fraud Bureau has also been informed.