Conflict & Justice

Buying and selling stolen information

(How would one go about illegally buying credit card numbers?) You'd first have to persuade the managers of these markets that you were legitimate, that you weren't a cop and that you're trustworthy. You also have to figure out a way to trust them. If you got past that, you'd be able to buy tools, weapons, credit card numbers, practically anything you wanted. (How do they accomplish such convincing?) Usually you have to know somebody, someone who's already in the market. It starts out as a social network. (How many credit card numbers are sold this way?) We're looking at hundreds of thousands, it's easy for these folks to harvest these things. There are a lot of folks doing this, thousands of people. And also, you don't have to sit in front of your computer, you can just write a program that can commit thousands of crimes in a minute. (Where are they trying to get credit card numbers?) It's spread around the world because it's an attractive lifestyle�in the US, Brazil, in Eastern Europe, in Asia, anywhere where there's programming skills. (What about the victims? Are there any countries that are more susceptible?) Absolutely: it's the country that has the most money and does the most business online, the US. (When we talk about identity theft, what else is at stake?) The biggest thing is a lost of confidence in the internet as a realm for business, and online has been a source of economic growth in the US.

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.