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September 6 2011
CONTACT: Bill Grassano

FinCEN Examines Identity Theft-Related Suspicious Activity
Reports Filed by Securities & Futures Firms
Trends in Illicit Activity Uncovered

VIENNA, Va. – The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) today released its analysis of identity theft suspicious activity reports (SARs) filed by securities and futures firms that shows identity thieves prefer to use stolen account identifiers to take over existing legitimate investment accounts rather than to set up new unauthorized accounts.

This is one of several trends uncovered in FinCEN’s analysis Identity Theft Trends, Patterns, and Typologies based on suspicious activity reports filed by securities and futures industry firms (SAR-SF). The report examined a sample of the more than 10,000 identity theft SAR-SFs submitted between 2005 and 2010, representing more than a tenth of all SAR-SFs filed during that period.

“The analysis illustrates how through the review of SARs, FinCEN can spot criminal patterns that help an investigation and lead to holding criminal actors accountable for their actions,” said FinCEN Director James H. Freis, Jr. “This report contains information that provides a window into the type of activities identity thieves undertake, of which financial institutions should be aware in order to protect their customers and the financial system from criminal abuse.”

Key findings from the report include the following:

As part of the analysis, FinCEN reached out to representatives of the Bank Secrecy Act Advisory Group (BSAAG) Securities and Futures Subcommittee for input regarding the types of information industry would find most useful.

The report is FinCEN’s second covering identity theft. The first report, released in October 2010, focused on a sample of the much larger population of identity theft SAR filings by depository institutions. The average number of subjects named in SAR-SFs was lower than the average number named in SARs filed by depository institutions, likely because most investment transactions, whether legitimate or otherwise, are initiated and completed online, by phone, fax, or mail and rarely involve face-to-face contact with investment industry employees. In contrast, depository institution branch personnel are more likely to experience periodic face-to-face contact with the majority of their branch customers and other individuals intending to complete financial transactions.


F inCEN's mission is to enhance U.S. national security, deter and detect criminal activity, and safeguard financial systems from abuse by promoting transparency in the U.S. and international financial systems.