Computer Crime Research Center


Online banking thefts

Date: January 01, 2006
By: Larry Fisher

It turns out online banking is not only convenient for users, but con artists as well.

A recent trend of unexplained withdrawals and in some cases bankruptcies has authorities cautioning online banking users that they may be tracked by scammers using illegal spyware to access random bank accounts.

“You’ll never even know these viruses are on your computer, but as soon as you go to a bank site they start logging your key strokes and gain access to your account numbers and passwords,” said Cpl. Darren Sabourin of the Maidstone RCMP, who is in the process of transferring to Regina headquarters where he will join the ‘F’ Division’s newly-formed Tech Crime Section partially dedicated to tracking and solving the growing trend of online frauds. “Once you’re done your online banking the spyware virus sends your information over the computer to an anonymous FTP server (File Transfer Protocol Server used for exchanging files) and then next thing you know your lifesavings start to disappear.”

While the spyware technology was originally developed as a safety measure to aid parents in monitoring their kids’ internet activity by tracking their surfing habits, Sabourin says this is a prime example of a good idea gone bad.
“There are legitimate purposes for these programs, but like with any technology as soon as you find a commercial use for it someone else is doing what they can to find an illegal use,” said Sabourin, adding although such cases have been limited in Canada and have yet to show up in the Midwest, the scenario remains a realistic concern. “It’s scary because online banking is really taking off and a lot of people, especially out in the rural area, have become accustomed to using it rather than driving to town to pay their bills.”
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