Accertify helps nail the fraudsters who lurk on the Web

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June 22, 2009 

By, BRAD SPIRRISON 
chicagotechmatters@gmail.com

We can never know with absolute certainty the true identity of those we correspond with online. Still, in recent years, hundreds of millions of us have published profiles on sites like Facebook and MySpace that reveal our personal tastes, biographies, and sometimes even travel plans!

To an online fraudster pretending to be a trusted contact, this information is akin to an unlocked window on the first floor of your home.

"People get a false sense sometimes that they know the other person so they let their guard down," said Jeff Liesendahl, CEO of Schaumburg-based Accertify. "By definition, the Web is an anonymous platform."

Liesendahl, who built the initial credit card fraud detection system for Orbitz, founded Accertify in 2007 with other alumni from the online travel site. Accertify leases software and services to retailers including Southwest Airlines and 1800hotels.com that monitor bogus e-commerce transactions. Earlier this year, the company struck a deal with online dating site eHarmony. In addition to looking out for accounts set up by stolen credit cards, Accertify's software is designed to detect "abnormalities" in online behavior.

"We can tell if multiple people from multiple users are signing up to the same account," Liesendahl said. "The bad guys do things in shifts. Sometimes the person you are communicating to is really five or six different people acting as one person."

Dating sites are particularly vulnerable to fraud because their members, by design, don't yet know each other at the point of contact. But how well do you know that old junior high school friend (much less the impostor hacking into his or her account) who is casually asking you and other Facebook friends to donate to some charity online?

Free social networks may be the next frontier for the 25 employees of Accertify. The company, which raised $2.5 million from founders and an undisclosed sum from Intel capital, expects to turn its first profit later this year. Among Accertify's 31 customers are Chicago-based e-tailers Cars.com and TicketsNow.