Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Price For A Digital Fake Passport: One Dollar

Andy Greenberg writes on Forbes.com:

As Web registrars and digital currency companies try to weed out their cybercriminal customers, they're increasingly demanding proof of identity, often in the form of a passport. The problem with that safeguard: a shady industry of passport fraud has sprouted to provide those cybercriminals with throwaway identities, offering both digital scans and physical passport look-a-likes. The price of those forgeries: as little as one dollar.

In a paper [.pdf] posted Monday by the Illinois non-profit cybersecurity research firm Team Cymru, the authors dug into the underground passport economy, collecting information from online forums and Web sites--largely Russian--offering the documents.

Here's why cybercriminals need fake passports: When they hijack a victim's account or create a new one in his or her name, they face the problem of how to transfer the stolen funds. In some cases, they've used Western Union to wire the money, employing "money mules" to move it physically from one account to another through several countries and hide the source of the crime. But Cymru points out that the process is expensive, and that Western Union has tightened its security, requiring Social Security numbers to wire large payments from the U.S. and carefully monitoring its branches' physical security to catch money mules.

More here.


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