What is cyber grave robbing?


If you come from the Miami Beach area in the US, then you will probably be aware of ‘cyber grave robbing’, which is a new term that has been coined for deceased identity fraud following a tragedy that occurred earlier this year.

The media has been reporting furiously on four individuals that have been charged with stealing the identities of the victims of the sudden and unexpected collapse of a 12-story residential building in Miami on 24 June. Tragically, nearly 100 people lost their lives and it took more than a month for search crews to recover and identify the remains of all individuals who were trapped in the rubble. As they were identified the details were released to the public and media.


During this time, when there was much uncertainty, and the scammers were able to obtain the names and birth dates of victims from news coverage of the disaster and use this information to steal their identities and open new credit cards in their names. The suspects used the cards to buy items such as shoes and luxury handbags and to make bank transfers, over amounting to over $45,000. They also rented vacant properties in the name of the deceased in order to have the cards and goods delivered to these addresses.


Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said at a news conference: the cyber grave robbers did move very quickly after the collapse to grab what they could while family and friends were in absolute emotional turmoil.’

One of the accused was found with a guide to committing deceased identity fraud. Which it is presumed that he obtained from the dark web.


However, what this case shows is that increasingly fraudsters are now actively targeting disasters where people have been killed as tragically there is a clear window of opportunity to steal and use their details with only a small chance of being discovered.


Deceased identity fraud is now one of the fastest growing forms of fraud in the UK and now that cyber grave robbing appears to be speeding up the process from time of death it is increasingly important that credit providing organisations protect themselves by using a deceased fraud prevention solution, such as Halo, which has a small lag time between the deceased’s date of death and appearing in the file.