Cybercrime Thwarted...For The Time Being
April 27, 2012

Cybercrime Thwarted…For The Time Being

Michael Harper for

Looking for some credit card numbers online to perpetrate some internet villainy? Britain´s Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA) just made things more difficult for you.

According to the British organization, they have now shuttered 36 websites in the UK, US and Australia which were selling compromised credit card data. Working with the FBI, SOCA says this development is the culmination of more than 2 years of investigative work.

Not to be outdone, SOCA also confirmed it has arrested two British men who were caught making purchases on these sites.

“Two arrests were made, one in Stanford, Birmingham and one in Tottenham, London. Both were caught making large scale purchases, bulk buying card details, presumably with the intention to commit fraud,” a SOCA spokesman told

With these sites now taken down, SOCA has been able to recover the details of more than two-and-a-half million credit cards, preventing potential fraud.

The head of SOCA´s cyber crime unit, Lee Miles, told BBC News that credit card criminals are now making a fast pitch, selling credit card information on an “industrial” scale.

“Criminals are turning over vast volumes of these cards. We must match the criminals - it´s an arms race. They are industrializing their processes and likewise we have to industrialize our processes to match them.”

Miles also said SOCA had noticed a trend in this kind of fraud. Referring to them as traditional “bedroom” hackers, Miles said these one-person operations are being recruited by criminal gangs and asked to write malicious software to lift people´s personal information while online.

Then, IT experts write code to strengthen these websites to be able to bear the load of handling the sale of huge amounts of data.

To move such amounts of data, the sites use automated vending carts (AVC).

According to SOCA, the very existence of these AVCs is proof the cyber criminals are actively developing newer, more dangerous technologies.

“AVC´s use the same type of technology as any other e-commerce site. They look the same and operate like legitimate businesses,” said the SOCA spokesman.

“We´ve seen a rapid shift in the number of criminals using AVCs as their preferred means of selling.”

SOCA isn´t done seeking out these fraudsters, and has called upon internet service providers to keep individuals from registering web sites anonymously.

“Where individuals register domain names for criminal purposes there is a very loose ℠know your customer´ regime among the website providers,” Mr Miles said.

“What we are trying to do is influence the industry to introduce more secure systems so they do know who is registering these sites and they have a more comprehensive customer database, and do more aimed at preventing criminals buying websites and using them for criminal ends,” said Miles.

According to security firm F-Secure, these actions by SOCA are promising, but law enforcement agencies still need to learn and do more in order to stop the spread of cyber criminality.

Chief research officer with F-Secure Mikko Hypponen told v3, “I´m glad to see authorities focus their efforts on the online attackers that hurt us the most: organized criminal gangs.”

“Taking 36 carding sites down is great news. But it´s not over. Many large sites continue operating normally.”