08 October 2003

Mobs Turn Net into Money Machine

Wired News: Mobs Turn Net into Money Machine: " LONDON -- Organized crime syndicates have stepped up their presence on the Internet, operating extortion rackets, child-pornography rings and elaborate financial scams, Britain's top cybercop told Reuters.

And the most vulnerable target is the individual Web user, said Detective Chief Superintendent Len Hynds, head of the U.K.'s National Hi-Tech Crime Unit, or NHTCU.

'Organized crime is turning to the weakest element in the chain, which is the people. It's the hands on the keyboard on either end of the transaction that is the actual weak point,' Hynds said.

The crime syndicates, he said, are based in every corner of the globe. Investigations have led the NHTCU repeatedly to Eastern European countries, including Ukraine, Russia and Latvia.

The groups have honed their Internet skills as a greater flow of business is conducted online.

'Organized crime in all its guises is extremely flexible. It does spot the new and lucrative opportunity,' Hynds said.

In the NHTCU's two-year existence, the 55-person task force has made nearly 110 arrests for such age-old crimes as blackmail and extortion as well as decidedly high-tech computer hacking cases.

Law-enforcement officials throughout the world suspect crime rings are recruiting technically savvy programmers to concoct fraud schemes against banks and businesses. "

Why is ID Theft a global issue? Crime syndicates have recruited and successfully exploited the online world to collect personal information. Social security numbers, dates of birth, mother's maiden names and other key information to open fraudulent accounts both online and offline.

ID Theft has become a global issue because of our societies thirst for "instant" approval" and a credit line to make those purchases today, not tomorrow. Our financial services institutions are eating their operational losses because of failed processes and systems with credit card marketing affiliates.

If you have been a victim of ID Theft then you know how hard it is to prove your innocence. Now more than ever it is important to read the fine print in privacy policies and question the security of your personal information. One day, the laws will realize that "Opt-out" should not be the default. "Opt-in" will be become the new marketers weapon against increasing operational losses.

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