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Now accepting new soldiers for Internet crime ring

Source: Ars Technica
Date: December 18, 2003

Cybercrime Taking advantage of unemployed and some gullible people, worldwide Internet crime rings are recruiting new members using online job postings. Many online job search sites have postings for "correspondence manager" openings and responders unknowingly end up taking part in a ring of identity theft, auction and credit card fraud. Using stolen credit card numbers, scam artists (usually in Europe) buy items from online merchants and then ship the items to new recruits who then repackage the items to be sent overseas. In return, the "employees" get a cut of the profits. The recruits are told they are helping out global resellers who have a tough time doing business since retailers are afraid to do business with parts of Europe and Russia. Instead, the newly hired are being used in money and package laundering and helping out a global crime ring.

The council found 5,000 consumers had participated in the scam from July to October, enabling con artists to steal $1.7 million from those eight sites during that 120-day period. A host of other fraud attempts were stopped by the sites. Total attempts to steal merchandise using the reshipping scam add up to an estimated $500 million, said Susan Henson, spokeswoman for the Merchant Risk Council.

The scam also involves auction fraud, where the scammers use the recruit's name and address to start fake auctions on high priced items. The auction winner is then instructed to wire money to the recruit's bank account and the recruit is then to wire the money overseas. Of course when the item is not shipped the person in the middle often gets caught. If an employee doesn't realize it is a scam and starts to wire money or repackage items, they are unknowingly committing theft by receipt, falsifying documents and/or tax evasion. When they realize a scam is occurring, they also may have put them at risk for identity theft since their "employer" knows their name, address, Social Security Number, and possibly bank account and credit card numbers.

Many of the online retailers and job search sites downplay the problem, but they are most likely covering their butt from bad publicity. Tracking down the ring leaders is tough even though the FBI is trying. Even if a ring leaders are uncovered, it may be difficult to round them up and prosecute without cooperation overseas. About the only way to stop or slow down these rings is for job sites and merchants to identify fraud postings and purchases, and for those looking for jobs to realize the offer is "too good to be true."

Original article

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