Synthetic identity fraud: The anatomy of a scam

How one man got lured into the world of synthetic identity fraud.
Two men entered a downtown Toronto bank to open up an account under a fake name. When they returned weeks later, they tried opening up another account under another phoney name, but the teller remembered the previous visit. (Toronto Police Services)

On June 2009, Toronto police Det.-Const. Mike Kelly got his first exposure to the world of synthetic identity fraud after a bank teller became suspicious about a customer at a downtown bank. 

The customer had tried to open up two accounts under two different names and was arrested for fraud. But when police discovered that he was also carrying 21 genuine ID cards under two fake names, they knew there was more to this scheme.

The man was brought into the police station, confessed and told his story. Kelly said the suspect said he had been working in a doughnut shop and had been approached by another man. This man told the suspect he couldn't be happy working in a doughnut shop in the middle of the night and asked him if he would like to make some extra money

"He come on to me to do this fraud thing," the man told police during an interview. "He really convinced me like there's nothing's going to happen, that everything is legal. They gonna make legal passports. Legal driving licence. SIN number and all MasterCards and everything would be legal."

The man said the other man, his "handler," took him to a number of driver's licence facilities where he would apply and receive licences in false names. 

"After that we went to the Equifax to get credit history for the person. And then after those, opened the bank account. Like we opened in different bank accounts like CIBC, Scotia and BMO."

He said he was taken to various banks in the Toronto area to open bank accounts. He said he was promised $5,000 for each account opened, a promise that was never kept.

The man's luck ran out that June when he entered the downtown bank to open an account and credit card under the name of Murad Ali. 

The man stayed mostly quiet, standing in the back, while his handler did most of the talking. 

They encountered no problems so they came back a month later to the same bank. They opened up another account, this time under the name Fraz Ali. But the bank teller recognized the man, and remembered he had opened an account just weeks before under a different name. 

When he was arrested, his ID under two fake names included four credit cards, two debit cards, an Ontario driver's licence and social insurance card.

Kelly said the man was just one of many who are lured into selling their face, time and signature for false promises of a payday from a handler.