Cybercrime Cases: Stories of How Cyber Criminals Commit Identity Theft

Identity theft has become more and more elaborate, where identity thieves have mastered numerous ways accessing bank accounts, Social Security numbers and controlling another individual’s identity. These crimes became apparent through dozens of cybercrime forums. Criminals use these sites the same way as any regular person uses their online purchasing/bidding sites. They buy, sell, and auction anything related to cybercrime through these sites, including credit and debit card numbers, bank accounts and personal data.

Cybercrime cost the US approximately $67.2 billion a year worth of income from businesses, according to the FBI. Consumers, on the other hand, lost roughly $8 billion from malicious contents and viruses online within the last two years based on Consumer Reports.

FBI Unsuccessfully Attacks the Cybercrime Forums

The FBI and US Secret Service attempt to suppress the growth of forums in 2004 were shortly successful, only to make a stronger come back. They have continuously grown more sophisticated and into a larger scale, almost as much as any other successful business sector where forum takeovers take place, much like in business takeovers in the business world, creating a bigger empire — in this case, a larger forum. Watchgroups and security firms say that this megaforum created is not a depot of anything a person needs to do cybercrime with.

This illustrates the rising business of cybercrime and the gravity of the threat it has for everyone. These growing forums use these sites in order to communicate with other cybercriminals, and gave them a venue to get together and be known.

After Shadowcrew, the pioneer in cybercrime forums, was taken down in October 2004, the operation led to the creation of new smaller forums where crimes were done in smaller scales.

Behind the Scenes of Internet Identify Theft

They also learned to be precocious in getting new members, where “Vouching” is now needed as a requirement before being invited to join. These veterans associate themselves with several forums to make sure that they have a back-up in case something happens to the others.

As in any criminal behaviour, they change tactics every now and then when one gets caught. This is the growing evolution of these forums specializing in different schemes and that this business has grown like any other secured business, as they take precaution from getting caught.

The world of cybercrime is highly dependent on reputation, wherein their desire to be known through their nicknames, or nics, is far greater than the compensation they get from performing their crimes.

Iceman, a veteran hacker and forum owner, made history by hacking through rival forums, and quadrupled membership to his forum by stealing the members of the other forums, thus stealing the archived messages and posts of the other four rival forums.

Iceman’s goal is to consolidate and isolate his megaforum to the potentially unreachable location, Iran, far from any law enforcement in the US. This now poses a bigger problem in terms of security.

Cyber Crime Investigations Lead to Arrests

As a precaution, the U.S. Secret Service has begun their investigations and probing, but has been quiet with regards to the details of their operations. So far, there have been 35 suspects arrested, but no details have been available until after the unsealing of indictments.

Several arrested include Binyamin Scwartz, 28, of Oak Park Mich., suspected of trafficking more than 100,000 Social Security numbers; and Paulius Kalpokas, 23, of Lithuania, suspected of trafficking stolen credit card data. Upon their arrest, no other information are being released by the U.S. Secret Service regarding how many and which forums are currently being investigated.

It is, however, feared that the existence of the megaforum created by Iceman, becomes a platform in creating highly secured forums created by highly skilled cybercriminals. The existence of Iceman’s CardersMarket, a hypersecured megaforum, has led these cyberoffenders into hiding under its umbrella.

After the massive takeovers, leaders of other forums presume that Iceman was installed by the FBI to attract crooks and eventually arrest them. This assumption was based on the inside-job that was done on Shadowcrew, where the informant was one of its high-ranking members.

With reputation being the basis of success in the cybercrime world, Iceman is in between being admired and distrusted by his peers for exposing their whole community and showing them how unsecure it is. It also led for these criminals to be more cautious as well as for law enforcement to have a difficult time trying to access the databases due to the new security features installed.

With the public being either unaware or lenient about the violations being done online, they are being warned to take the matter seriously. Security officials also instruct businesses not to be slow in taking steps in ensuring their customers’ safety. These measures include biometric identification apart from their log-on and passwords to properly identify them.

Thomas Harkins, COO of Edentify — a security firm in Bethlehem, Pa., warns that identity theft will rise by 20 times in the next 2 years.

Thomas Harkins spent two decades as operations director for MasterCard International's fraud division, gaining an insider's view of cybercrime's breakneck rise. Now COO of security firm Edentify, based in Bethlehem, Pa., Harkins says identity theft is poised to increase by a factor of 20 over the next two years.

Cases involving theft is sure to continue rising, such as the case of Kevin Munro from Warsaw, N.Y.. His name popped up in the forums, and his bank details, as well as personal data were being used to make online purchases. Munro says that for people like him who works for what he has and what he needs, cybercriminals being outlaws taking away the fruits of his labour.