Unpicking the cyber-crime economy

26th August 2018


Blank credit cards
Cyber-thieves can struggle to dispose of the cash their crimes generate

Turning virtual cash into real money without being caught is a big problem for successful cyber-criminals.


They often have to get creative when “cashing out” or laundering the money they have stolen, according to a security expert.


Ziv Mador, head of security research at SpiderLabs. told the BBC that credit card thieves, for example, have limited time to profit, because at some point the victim will put a stop on their card.


Tens of thousands of stolen card numbers are traded daily on the underground markets that Mr Zador and his colleagues monitor, with details taken from compromised websites or databases.


“They can try to sell the card, which is not big money because they only get a few dollars for each one,” he said.


Instead, he added, they are more likely to use them to buy more valuable assets like iPhones or Macbooks, which are popular because they tend to hold their value when resold.


“They do not buy 100 or so iPhones at once,” he said. “They use a lot of different cards at different times.”

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