Wednesday, July 05, 2006

NYT on phishing crook

The NYT article on the activities of an 'identity theif' (i.e. a pishing scammer) raises some interesting points:

First Sharma was caught after he bought an ID card printer on a stolen credit card and had it delivered to himself. This strikes me as a pretty rookie mistake. If there is a single transaction that would set off alarm bells it would be the purchase of equipment used to make credit cards.

Most cases if a merchant gets a chargeback on a credit card they just eat it. Cops are not that interested in investigating individual credit card frauds. When the goods bought are clearly tools for financial fraud then heaven and earth will be moved if necessary.

Second, his screen name, sniper5984 was his birthday! Of all the rookie mistakes immaginable that is pretty crass.

Third, probably the most important. It may be true that the cops only catch the stupid criminals but they only need to be stupid once (buying the printer) and smart criminals who associate with stupid criminals put themselves at risk.

That is the reason why organized crime is rare. It is very hard to establish the necessary discipline and critical mass. Organized crime can make real money but the centrifugal forces are always pulling the organization apart. It takes a very strong centripetal force to keep everything pulled together.

It only took one weak link in the chain to bring down Shaddowcrew and Carder planet. Shama's prison sentence of 2 to 4 years is remarkably short for someone who stole $150,000 on their third conviction. He clearly provided a lot of cooperation.

Looking through the backups of carder portal, sniper5984 had a bad reputation even amongst the carders. He was notorious as a 'ripper' (someone who takes money but does not deliver the goods). On one occasion he put out a message asking for 'donations' to a legal fund for a fellow carder 'greywolf' who turned out not to even be in jail (public archive)

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