Police in Greenwich, Connecticut have arrested a former limo driver who was well-known for identity theft and check fraud.
He was accused of using a stolen identity to rent an apartment in the area.
The fraudster is identified as Georges Avridor, a 42-year-old man who has cost his customers and many more people nearly $1 million.
He complicated his situation since he had a running court case awaiting sentencing in August.
Georges Avridor’s Case
As an employee of Greenwich Limo Services, Avridor had access to very many customers who were oblivious to the danger they were going to be in.
He defrauded both his customers and his employer using darknet services, which he confessed to the police officers who arrested him.
According to the suspect, he would send a valid paycheck picture from the limousine company to a person in the dark web for alteration.
With a lot of keenness, the dark web vendor would then change the check accordingly, favoring the limo driver’s pay.
Using his cellphone, Avridor would then deposit the check images which he received anonymously. Facilitated by anonymity tools, their communication was encrypted and guaranteed no connection would link either of them if arrested.
Heather Bozentko, a police investigator working on the case, noted that Avridor had deposited six altered checks which amounted to over $4,000.
On further investigations using bank security cameras, the police came to find out that Avridor withdrew the deposited money using an ATM. It immediately prompted the bank to freeze all his accounts for further investigations.
According to a Department of Justice press release, Avridor has been on the police radar twice since he was first arrested for defrauding Greenwich customers from July 2013 to October 2016.
After the first arrest, with concrete evidence, he was released with a bond of $50,000 which he was able to raise to buy his temporary freedom.
Before he would get his sentencing from the judge, he was again arrested recently after attempting to rent an apartment using stolen credentials.
For the second arrest was made when the landlord of the apartment immediately notified the police of a person who had used another person’s credentials to pay for an apartment.
After he was arrested, Avridor was charged with identity theft, larceny and illegally using a credit card.
During the first hearing, he was charged with six counts of forgery and larceny of the third degree, a felony which might see him jailed for almost 30 years.
The suspect will remain in police custody as the investigators compile more evidence to be presented to the judge, who will make the final decision.
The limo company that was significantly affected by the Avridor’s action was ultimately reimbursed by the bank.
A Bigger Problem
For a long time now, credit and debit card theft has dominated the world of cybercrime and fraud in the United States.
Most reported cases of identity theft have revolved around Fullz, a term ascribed to the type of highly demanded data that ends up being sold to other criminals in darknet markets.
Criminals have begun changing tactics by venturing into new areas not yet flooded with cases.
This is the forgery of personal details in search of financial gains.
The most abused of all forgeries is the check alteration to rip off a customer’s bank account without their knowledge.
Such cases have seen an enormous uptick with most Americans negatively affected by the vice taking place, all without anything they can do to stop the determined criminals.
Mostly, cases involving check forgery involve people who have worked together or close friends and family who want to benefit from the check.
This makes such cases very simple to solve as the name holder of the check knows how the check was altered in their favor.
Recently, now that the dark web has become a universal hub for cybercrime, the amount of services offering document alteration have significantly increased to unprecedented levels.
It has become increasingly difficult for the law enforcement authorities to curb check forgery cases involving a family member who is mostly reluctant to push the case.
It will be up to the police investigators, in collaboration with the financial institutions, to make sure suspects are not forgiven but brought to book as soon as possible.
Recommendations from Security Experts
Due to the rising level of check forgery, security experts are advising customers on the most effective ways to keep their bank accounts safe from check fraud.
It is observed that most people who use checkbooks do not crosscheck with their account balance regularly. This makes them vulnerable to check fraud using forgery, where crosschecking later will be hectic.
Security experts are recommending some measures to be considered when paying any bill using a check.
The first security measure that will help check customers from falling into fraud traps is regularly verifying transactions made by the bank. This will help see no unauthorized payment will be done to forged checks.
Another critical measure to secure checks and bank accounts is having each transaction notification sent to the account owner’s phone number and personal email.
It will make sure they can see what is happening with their account in real time.
Checkbook users are also advised to balance their checkbook every month.
It is a technique that will help them understand the transactions made against what is expected as per their bill payment plan.
Other measures include always having your checkbook stored in a safe place free from the public.
It’s also highly advisable to destroy all old or cancelled checks.
It’s also important to minimize the amount of personal information provided on a check. Users are advised never to leave blank spaces on the payee and the amount lines.
Checkbook security should be the main priority to fight fraudsters who are forging signatures to steal money from unsuspecting customers.
Similar security measures should be considered by businesses using checks to pay their customers and workers.
Although it may seem like a lot of work, they are points that will significantly reduce check fraud cases if the recommendations are implemented properly.
For now, the former limo driver, Georges Avridor, will remain in police custody as he awaits the judge’s sentencing.
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