On the road, they sometimes found it easier to steal the identities of real people than to invent fictional ones. Cox would put ads in the paper—Home Loans Available. Good/Bad Credit, No Problem. It was amazing how people would just give up information about themselves to a stranger on the phone. Cox would also pretend to be a Red Cross worker taking a survey and steal the identities of homeless people. He’d use the information he gathered to get copies of people’s voter-registration cards, birth certificates, and Social Security cards, which he then used to obtain driver’s licenses and passports, so he could take out home loans in their names. Cox convinced himself that he wasn’t really hurting anyone. Wasn’t this exactly why title insurance existed? In the early 2000s, mortgage fraud was the fastest-growing form of white-collar crime, and it was easy to pretend that everyone involved was a greedy player in a greedy game.
-- from an article in The Atlantic about a professional scammer.