This week saw a victory for the authorities in the war against data theft and credit card fraud. The UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) arrested two men, leading to 36 sites used for selling stolen card and bank details being shut down.
The men who were arrested are suspected of making large-scale purchases of data from e-commerce type platforms known as Automated Vending Carts (AVCs) which afford criminals the ability to sell large quantities of stolen data quickly and easily. These 36 sites of this nature that were shut down now direct visitors to a screen informing them that the web domain has been seized by law enforcement.
Along with the two arrests and the virtual take-down, the UK’s Dedicated Cheque & Plastic Crime Unit also seized a number of computers that are thought to have been used to facilitate offences under the Fraud Act.
In the past two years, Soca – along with other organisations such as the FBI and Australian Federal Police – has recovered more than 2.5m items of compromised personal and financial information. This recovered data has been passed to financial institutions both in the UK and overseas in the hope that it will help stop fraud taking place against the relevant accounts. It is estimated that this has prevented over £500m worth of fraudulent transactions.
Ultimately how easy a target an individual is for an identity thief depends on how much of their personal information is readily available in the public domain as well as what is stored ‘safely’ online. With hackers and criminals becoming more adept at obtaining this information, it is time that the innocents thought long and hard about what private information they post online and how they choose to share this information.