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Credit card thieves maintain ‘level of sophistication’: Study

Washington, Apr.23 (ANI): A sophisticated and organized theft network has been exposed that is said to be unique in the crime domain.

A criminologist from Michigan State University, Thomas Holt, has found out that thieves run an online marketplace for stolen credit card data to websites such as eBay and Amazon. The thieves advertised for data and money laundering services through web forums and sent as well as received money electronically or via an intermediary.

Holt claimed these thieves follow a different crime pattern from other crimes as there is a level of sophistication and it does not involve 15-year-olds who steal credit card information online and use it to buy pornography.

The credit card information, said Holt, is either hacked through bank database, retailers or other service providers, which is then sent as e-mails to customers, thereby enabling phishing (acquiring username and password details by masquerading as banks) and skimming. Skimming involves attaching hidden devices on an ATM machine or noting credit card details with an electronic belt worn by someone as common as a waiter at a restaurant.

The thieves thereafter advertise the details such as card type, country of origin and payment details. The researcher said that a Visa classic card would sell for five to twenty dollars per card, with discount available only for buying large amounts of data.

Holt also found that there are many illicit service providers who would help buyers make such purchases without raising any suspicion in withdrawing money directly from the accounts.

The study also showed that unlike the hierarchical structure of a mafia, such crimes are more democratic in nature. Holt has monitored both English and Russian language online forums that reveal these findings.

While some policymakers believe that hate comments on these online forums would build mistrust among buyers and de-functionalize the crime network, Holt claimed that the managers working on these organized forums would easily remove such comments.

The researcher opines that the law enforcers should infiltrate these crime networks with a long-term undercover operation, which would take time but prove to be more effective than other strategies. (ANI)