Detecting Employee Computer Fraud

An article on a Web site operated by the Detroit Free Press about a driver's license fraud scheme in Michigan's Secretary of State's office raises an interesting question.

This month, a pair of Michigan state employees was caught selling fake driver's licenses, license plates and vehicle registration tags. The employees would identify a customer interested in obtaining the fake licenses and registration, would take the person's photo and then "use the name and personal information of an unwitting person already in the Secretary of State computer system" to produce the fake documents, according to the article.

This is the unnerving part: "The case broke after a sheriff's deputy noticed a fraudulent temporary license plate during a routine traffic stop," according to the article. The two employees' illegal activity on the state computer system was never flagged by the network. With the knowledge that most computer crimes come from within an organization, not from outside hackers, why wasn't the state system programmed to flag this unusual activity?

In addition, the article quotes Wayne County Sheriff Warren Evans musing about how "it is incredible in a post-Sept. 11 world that a government employee would provide anyone with picture identification under a false name." Maybe it's not that incredible, as illustrated by this Washington Post article. (As was the situation in the Michigan fraud case, this case was not broken by the state Department of Motor Vehicles but by the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security.)

In the end, this Michigan case is what the Homeland Security Department can point to in its ongoing effort to enforce Real ID.