A week ago, Colorado’s Secretary of State and the state’s Attorney General warned registered businesses that criminals are hijacking corporate names and brands in order to secure loans and lines of credit and make off with the money.
“The criminals manipulate targeted business filing records at the Secretary of State’s office by changing a business’s information in order to imply that they have a legitimate stake in the company. These identity thieves use this maliciously altered information along with other records to apply for lines of credit from major retailers. Before the company’s actual owner or agent realizes what has happened, the business starts to receive calls from debt collectors and suffers damage to its credit report.”
This rather loosely protected online registration system is present in more than one state, so only a week later news that the same scheme is being perpetrated in Georgia is being reported by Computerworld.
So far, two people in Duluth county have been charged for stealing corporate identities and misusing them to steal money: a music production business owner who managed to withdraw over $5 million by coordinating a group of over 100 people and taking advantage of identities of almost 4,000 companies and individuals; and a former singer that “earned” himself around $1.2 million by stealing the identities of some 200 companies and 149 individuals.
It seems incredible that in this day and age the corporate registration data could have been accessed and changed without a username or password, but there it is. Officials of both states are now urging businesses to take advantage of the e-mail verification option that provides instant notification of any change to a business’s record.