Detective said MO identity theft laws out of date
COLUMBIA - Identity theft scammers are now turning to impersonated social media accounts to find their next victim, but a Boone County detective said Missouri's identity theft laws are out of date.
Boone County Cyber Crimes Task Force Detective Tracy Perkins said Missouri's laws are "behind and they need to get caught up with what crimes are being committed now."
MU student Laura Harris said someone made a Twitter account with her name and an old profile picture from her Facebook page almost two years ago that has recently become active again. She said this fake account is adding and trying to message people she knows.
Harris noted a friend from high school received and replied to some generic messages from the fake Laura Harris account, which eventually escalated into more personal questions.
“It was just way too personal and she eventually stopped replying and she messaged me saying ‘hey is this you because I don’t think this is you. It doesn’t sound like you,’” Harris said.
Perkins said this is consistent with identity theft scammers' patterns.
“They have to do a little work, but scammers who actually want to take over the identity of someone, when they start making that small talk of ‘hey how’s it going?’ they are trying to butter you up. After if they were able to make a snag on somebody then they are going to amp it up a little bit,” Perkins said.
Perkins said under current Missouri law, there is little law enforcement can do when someone makes a fake account with a name and a picture. She said there is also little law enforcement in Missouri can do if the scammer does obtain information such as someone's social security number.
Perkins said unless the scammer uses another persons' identity to commit a crime, there is very little Missouri law currently permits.
When Harris found out about the account, she reported it to Twitter. However, the account has not been removed nearly two years later.
Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook all have policies about impersonation accounts and ways you can report them. However, Perkins said these platforms get many complaints like this daily, so it is important to be persistent.
“If you’ve reported it once and it hasn’t gone down, be vigilant and continue to report it until they take necessary action,” Perkins said.
Perkins said it is also smart to report the incident to local law enforcement.
She said the three things a scammer needs to steal an identity are name, date of birth and social security number. She said to always be aware of suspicious behavior and to keep private information off of social media accounts.