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What Is Address Fraud?

Address fraud can be committed by businesses that use a mail drop instead of a post office box number.
Address fraud might be used by a voter wishing to cast a ballot in a different jurisdiction.
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  • Written By: K. Testa
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2014
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Address fraud is a form of fraud whereby someone uses a fictitious address or an inaccurate address for economic gain or some other type of benefit. A fictitious address is a location that does not exist. An inaccurate address could be, for example, a former address that was never updated, or an acquaintance's or a relative’s address. There are several ways to commit address fraud, and it is considered a crime in most jurisdictions. Depending on the severity of the crime, the legal penalties can include fines and imprisonment.

A common example of committing address fraud is opening a bank account or credit account using a false or stolen address. Someone might submit a credit application containing another person’s address or a fictitious address. Another regular practice is to steal documents with personal information and portray the identity as one’s own when seeking credit approval. Once approved, the perpetrator can incur debt in another person’s name and not have to pay the charges.

School enrollment is also subject to address fraud. Many parents or guardians claim addresses in public school districts where they do not live in order for their children to attend certain schools. This practice causes controversy because many schools have only a certain number of slots for students. Since those slots are supposed to be reserved for district residents, giving a false address is considered illegal as well as unfair to those placed on waiting lists or denied admission to preferred schools.

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Phony businesses often use false addresses or commit other forms of fraud as well. Many of them change locations frequently, which is not necessarily fraud by itself. They might, however, also use a false location as a “warehouse” or portray a residential address as a business location by using a mail drop instead of a post office box number.

There are several other motivations for committing address fraud. In the US, for example, automobile insurance regulations vary by state. As a result, many people claim or create addresses in states with more lenient regulations in order to avoid the costs of maintaining insurance. Political motivations can encourage address fraud as well. In such cases, voters cast their votes in precincts where they do not live. Frequently, criminals commit address fraud simply to hide their whereabouts from law enforcement officials.

Address fraud and identity theft are associated with several other types of crimes, and they are punishable according to a particular jurisdiction’s laws. The penalties vary by state in the US, for instance, depending on whether the particular crime is a misdemeanor or a felony. For example, someone convicted of these types of crimes could be convicted of larceny and ordered to make restitution to the victim. Felony convictions, on the other hand, could result in imprisonment.

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anon945023
Post 3

I know someone who changed their address on court documents in order to avoid creditors finding her. She is also due to receive an inheritance, which is also currently going through the court process. She is afraid her creditors will get their hands on her inheritance. The really stupid thing is, when the police arrive at her old address, where she was evicted, in order to issue a summons, they will find out real quick she was evicted and doesn't live there and that the address is fraudulent.

Nefertini
Post 2

@SimpleByte, I experienced another kind of address fraud. I answered an online job ad and got "hired". They sent me the URL to a web site with their supposed address, and it looked real enough. I was supposed to edit some documents for them which I did. After I had edited about $200 of documents for them at our agreed upon fee, they sent me $4000 and claimed it was a mistake which could be rectified if I sent the $3800 to their comrade in the Ukraine. Suddenly I realized I'd been had and this was a money laundering scheme. I didn't send them any money and went to my bank and the police. Of course the address my supposed employers had given me was nonexistent and their web site was offline and no longer existed by the time the money scheme became apparent.

I looked up how to report fraud and sent an online complaint to some law enforcement agents and to the state attorney general. I have been quite disappointed in how little interest there was in trying to actually catch these crooks. My bank wasn't interested after warning me not to send them any money because in their experience the funds this type of criminal sends will bounce and I will be out money from my account and will be legally liable for it if my account doesn't have sufficient funds after the hot check from my supposed employer bounces. The cops didn't even want the emails I had printed out from these crooks and neither of the places at which I filed an online complaint ever followed up on my complaints. It soon became evident why this type of fraud is perpetuated so often. None of the agencies I thought would go after these crooks seemed to care enough to want to bother.

SimpleByte
Post 1

I'm a teacher in a very good school district, and we have had several cases of parents providing fraudulent addresses so their kids could attend our schools. Usually they use the address of a grandparent or other relative or a friend who does live in the district, but if the child does not actually live in the district it's a fraudulent use of address.

I understand why our district is more desirable than others in the area, but residents in this district pay taxes for it and the parents who live in other districts pay taxes to support their own school systems. Sending your kids to a private school is an option if you can afford it and if you don't like the options in the district in which you reside. Home schooling is another option these days.

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