Digital Thievery a Lucrative Trade: Report

By Erin Harrison December 02, 2010

Cyber crime has seemingly become a trade so lucrative it is thought to be worth several times more than the illegal drugs racket, according to a recent report by the AFP.

As an example, “Until Eoin Blackwell arrived at his Sydney home from a Christmas party, he had no idea his bank account had been emptied from half-a-world away,” the AFP said.

Apparently, Blackwell’s personal details were stolen by a Romanian card-skimming gang and sold to criminals in Italy. While he hung out with friends in a pub, the thieves withdrew $2,900 from his account.

After the bank confirmed his cash was gone – which was withdrawn in Milan – they told Blackwell it would take six weeks to investigate. According to the AFP’s report, the bank officials even suggested he “may have participated in the fraud,” Blackwell said.

“In the end, I got the (money) back,” he said. “I’m now militant about covering the key pad on ATMs and more cautious with online banking.”

Blackwell is among the 65 percent of the world’s two billion Internet users estimated to have fallen victim to cyber crime, a trade so lucrative it is thought to be worth several times more than the illegal drugs racket.

Identity theft associated with the compromise of personal information is a growing issue for all law enforcement, according to Neil Gaughan, high-tech crime chief with the Australian Federal Police, the AFP reported.

According to Australia’s new “BLK MKT” cyber-safety campaign, an identity is stolen every three seconds and 43 million fake anti-virus programs are downloaded every year. These programs allow cyber criminals to effective log user’s every keystroke, including passwords.

“And the trade in personal details can be a lucrative enterprise. The cyber criminal can use complete identities to make fake passports, drivers’ licences and other documents,” the AFP said.

The BLK MKT program has set up a mobile shipping container fitted out as a cyber-criminal’s den to show people the inside world of identity theft. The aim is to demonstrate how an unprotected computer can be compromised in just four minutes.


Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company's strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and TechZone360, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives

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