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New breed of cyber criminals

Date: July 20, 2004
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
By: Ludmila Goroshko

WWW became a field of rapidly growing e-business, a sphere of industrial sales and purchases, an international market ground where huge money circulates. The ball comes to the player: where the money is, there are scammers. Scammers of a new breed, generation: computer, technically skilful, well-equipped, resourceful and quick.

According to some estimations, about 80% of all information in the Russian internet are "stolen". They steal domain names, web design, goods and photos directories, data bases in the whole and in parts, compiled software and its codes, logotypes, FAQs, slogans and so on, and so forth.

According to the Internet Fraud Complaint Centre, damage from cyber con men amounted to 17 million of USD in 2001, 54 million in 2002, 1.5 billion in 2003.

"For several years we have been seeing anecdotal evidence that identity theft is a significant problem that is on the rise," Howard Beales, director of the bureau of consumer protection with the Federal Trade Commission said. "Now we know. It is affecting millions of consumers and costing billions of dollars."

Phishing scams have surged in recent months to 1,100 in April, a 178 percent increase from March, according to figures from the Anti-Phishing Working Group's April report. In May, the group received reports of over 300 attacks a week, with a big drop-off the week of May 29, possibly due to the Memorial Day holiday, the report said.

Faked sender, or "from" addresses on e-mail messages continued to be a popular tool of scam artists. At least 95 percent of e-mail messages submitted to the Anti-Phishing Working Group used such addresses.

The spoofed addresses are frequently identical to legitimate addresses at the companies being targeted by the phishers, for example: support@citibank.com and billing@aol.com were common spoofed addresses. The remainder of phisher e-mails submitted to the group came from so-called "social engineering addresses" -- online mailboxes at domains run by the scam artists that resemble actual e-commerce sites. The domains, such as eBay.billing.com, instead of ebay.com, or verify-visa.net, as opposed to visa.com, are designed to fool customers, the report said.

The phishing problem has received increased attention from the private sector and governments in recent months, as online criminals have seized on the scams as a lucrative and relatively simple way to make money.


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