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Another Identity Theft Ring Busted

The feds are getting better at busting criminals every day. Seventeen criminals, many from Eastern Europe, pilfered more than 95,000 stolen credit card numbers and $4 million worth of fraudulent transactions.

The New York Times reports the men were involved in a vast conspiracy known as the Western Express Cybercrime Group, which trafficked in stolen credit card information through the Internet and used it to create forged credit cards and to sell goods on eBay. They used digital currencies like e-gold and Webmoney to launder their proceeds.

Several of the scammers — Viatcheslav Vasilyev, Vladimir Kramarenko, Egor Shevelev, Dzimitry Burak and Oleg Kovelin — were charged with corruption. Vasilyev, 33, and Kramarenko, 31, were arrested at their homes in Prague, have been extradited to Manhattan. Shevelev, 23, was arrested in Greece last year, is still awaiting extradition. Burak, 26, a citizen of Belarus and Kovelin, 28, a citizen of Moldova have not been arrested

Vasilyev and Kramarenko recruited work from home employees to advertise and sell electronics on eBay. When someone would purchase an item, the two men would pocket the buyer’s payment, give a cut to their recruit, then use a stolen credit card number to purchase the item from a retail store and send it to the buyer. In essence, they used eBay to obtain a legitimate buyer’s credit card number through a legitimate channel and didn’t actually “hack” anything. They simply set up pseudo-fake auctions that, in most cases, delivered the product, but also obtained the victim’s credit card number and then made fraudulent charges.

Burak and Shevelev were “carders” who sold stolen credit card information on a website called Dumpsmarket and, probably, in chat rooms. “Dumps” is a criminal term for stolen credit cards and “carders” are the scammers who buy and sell them. Kovelin was a criminal hacker who stole victims’ financial information via phishing emails and more than likely used the victims’ own account information against them.

Protect yourself:

  1. Check your credit card statements often, especially after using an online auction site. Refute unauthorized charged within 60 days to be made whole by the issuing bank.
  2. Don’t just buy the lowest priced product on and auction site. Use auction sellers who have been approved my many and have a solid track record.
  3. Anytime you ever receive an email asking for personal information, credit information, banking etc, do not enter it. Just hit delete. Often victims will receive and email from a trusted source like eBay directly to their account because they have been actively engaging the fraudulent auctioneer. eBays system doesn’t recommend giving your credit card information outside their network in an email.
  4. Get a credit freeze. Go to ConsumersUnion.org and follow the steps for your particular state. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases, it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes your Social Security number useless to a potential identity thief.
  5. Invest in identity theft protection and prevention. Not all forms of identity theft protection can be prevented, but identity theft protection services can dramatically reduce your risk.

Identity Theft Speaker Robert Siciliano discusses a study done by McAfee on mules bilked in work-at-home scams on Fox News

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