Jersey Shore Cyberthief Swipes $300,000 From Bergen Retiree's Account: It Happens A Lot

An unemployed cyberthief from the Jersey Shore swiped more than $300,000 from an elderly Lodi resident’s retirement account after stealing the victim’s identity, authorities charged.

Joseph Bilotta
Joseph Bilotta Photo Credit: BCJ

Joseph Bilotta, 65, hijacked the online account, along with others in New Jersey and Maryland, “to fund his lifestyle,” Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella said.

Lodi police notified members of the prosecutor’s Financial Crimes Unit of the account takeover scheme in 2021, Musella said.

They arrested Bilotta on theft charges following an investigation and sent him to the Bergen County Jail only to have a judge release him a short time later pending future court action, records show.

Account takeover thieves start by gaining access to victims’ accounts and then changing their personal information.

Sometimes they’ll request a new card or add an authorized user. Some buy cell phones or order food. Others open new accounts in your name. All of them change your password.

Once they have complete access to your account, they can withdraw money, make purchases or – even more insidiously – sell the information to other thieves.

Some cybercriminals take advantage of data breaches to gather and share logins and passwords on the dark web. Others use malware, phishing or other means of ID theft to get your information.

From there, they can hit other accounts of yours that likely have the same credentials.

Experts urge consumers to be meticulous with passwords. Hackers will be more successful when you use the same logins and passwords on multiple sites. Ideally, you should have a unique, secure password for each.

ALWAYS use multifactor authentication – having a one-time password texted or emailed to you before your account can be accessed.

For what it’s worth, face recognition and fingerprints are also becoming more popular. You could also consider identity theft protection.

If you’re victimized:

  • Report the fraud to the company or agency involved;
  • Close your account or upgrade your account security ASAP;
  • Check all of your other accounts, particularly those with the same password and email address;
  • Change those passwords – all of ‘em.

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