As reported in an FBI June 26, 2012 press release, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s latest cyber crime takedown protected over 400,000 potential computer crime victims and prevented over US$205 million in losses.
In concert with the FBI’s proactive war against cyber crime, they conducted an undercover operation using an Internet website they created for carders to communicate and transact business. ““Carding” crimes are offenses in which the Internet is used to traffic in and exploit the stolen credit card, bank account, and other personal identification information of hundreds of thousands of victims globally.”
In 2010 the FBI created a website posing as a Carding Forum. ““Carding forums” are websites used by criminals engaged in carding (“carders”) to facilitate their criminal activity. Carders use carding forums to, among other things, exchange information related to carding, such as information concerning hacking methods or computer-security vulnerabilities that could be used to obtain personal identification information; and to buy and sell goods and services related to carding—for example, stolen credit or debit card account numbers, hardware for creating counterfeit credit or debit cards, or goods bought with compromised credit card or debit card accounts. Carding forums often permit users to post public messages—postings that can be viewed by all users of the site—sometimes referred to as threads. For example, a user who has stolen credit card numbers may post a public thread offering to sell the numbers. Carding forums also often permit users to communicate one-to-one through so-called private messages. Because carding forums are, in essence, marketplaces for illegal activities, access is typically restricted to avoid law enforcement surveillance. Typically, a prospective user seeking to join a carding forum can only do so if other, already established users vouch for him or her, or if he or she pays a sum of money to the operators of the carding forum. User accounts are typically identified by a username and access is restricted by password. Users of carding forums typically identify themselves on such forums using aliases or online nicknames (“nics”).”
The undercover operation was immensely successful.
I applaud the FBI for the expertise, preparation, and ingenuity in conducting this operation. Carders and other cyber criminals will think twice before using carder forums to conduct business in the future, and at least 24 of them will be out of commission for some time.
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