“Cybercrime is not rocket science anymore. It’s extremely easy,” says Brett Johnson, aged 47, in an NBC News interview. Dubbed the “Original Internet Godfather” by the American Secret Service, Johnson spent most of his life perfecting online fraud techniques and creating two major cybercrime syndicates.
“These days someone who has no experience at all can take classes on how to commit these crimes. He can buy tutorials. He could partner with other people and commit these crimes. All the tools they use are basically off-the-shelf products” Johnson continued.
Back home in South Africa, statistics from the South African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) indicate an increase of 200% in cases of identity theft over the past six years. This type of crime accounts for two out of every five fraud cases, and is costing the short-term insurance industry roughly R4bn per annum.
For the inexperienced internet user the link between identity theft and cybercrime may not be obvious. But losing your identity in today’s digitally connected world has little to do with losing your wallet. In October of 2017 Eye Witness News reported about a massive digital data breach in which the details of roughly 33 million South Africans were compromised. These details include ID numbers, financial information, and even home addresses.
With these details at his or her disposal, a fraudster can run complete background checks to obtain vital personal information. From that point onward, the possibilities are endless: credit can be obtained from retailers and pay-day loan companies; bank accounts can be accessed electronically and telephonically; employment can be sought with the aim of committing fraud – all with just a few essential details of an unwitting victim.
B-Verified: Biometric ID Verification
Implementing biometric ID verification has saved South African banks a whopping R322 million in identity fraud-related losses every month. For the bank, it provides a simple means of matching the individual to his or her bank account and other banking services. But it’s a system which remained unavailable to other businesses, until now.
B-Verified relies on the capturing of fingerprints using a fingerprint scanner. The captured fingerprints are then sent digitally to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) where it is verified. The identity associated with the fingerprints is then returned – all in a matter of seconds.
B-Verfied can be implemented in any industry and any business – from smaller financial institutions and retailers who extend credit to their customers to rental agencies such as estate agents and vehicle and equipment rental companies. It can also be used to screen job applicants, and to verify the identities of existing employees.
The benefits of on-demand DHA ID verification are substantial: B-Verified protects existing customers and clients through accurate ID verification. Losses are curbed since fraudsters are easily identified and, where hiring is concerned, the potential of negligent hiring law suits, in-house theft and fraud, and hiring individuals who may be a danger to existing staff drops to near-zero.
Nowadays Johnson lives in Alabama and runs a consultancy that specialises in fighting cybercrimes. But the systems and techniques he developed ensured the spawning of an industry where access to clean, credit-worthy identities is just a couple of clicks away. Whether you like it or not, this is the reality playing out right now; being safe truly pays better than being sorry.