The fact that stealing credit cards or even identities is a huge problem in the digital age is hardly a surprise, but the to learn just how easy it is for people to secure stolen data for pennies and turn it into a big score is indeed shocking. Freelance technology writer Patrick Lambert recently connected with a malicious hacker known only as “d0g,” and through a series of interviews, Lambert sheds light on a massive underground community that pulls in millions by making the rest of our lives a nightmare.
In his piece, Lambert paints a frightening picture of a world where stolen credit card numbers can be purchased for as little as $2 each on underground websites. Those who purchase the stolen card data then employ a variety of scams to turn that $2 purchase into thousands in profit.
One such scam, the hacker tells Lambert, involves listing popular items for sale on eBay using fake identities and creating fake PayPal accounts to receive payments. When a user wins one of his auctions, d0g collects the payment and then purchases the same item from a legitimate online retailer using a stolen credit card. He has the retailer ship his purchase directly to the auction winner and pockets the cash paid by the eBay buyer.
D0g, a Romanian hacker who is less than 20 years old, claims to make more than $10,000 each week employing these and other tactics.
“Doing the crime, getting rich with stolen identities, is really easy,” writes Lambert. “The hard part is covering your tracks, and 90% of the things these people do are for the sole purpose of covering themselves.”
Lambert’s article goes on to detail some of the measures these criminals take to protect themselves, which appear to revolve around using publicly available VPN services and private VPNs to mask the hacker’s IP address and location.