Headline May 05, 2016/ ''' INTERNET *&* STEALING '''


AMONG LAW-ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS around the world, Ramnicu Valcea,  has a nickname :  Hackerville.

It's something of a misnomer; only a small percentage of the fraudsters are actual hackers. But the town is indeed full of online crooks, from petty to large-scale, specialising mostly-

In commerce scams and malware attacks on banks and supported  by an international network of money mules known as arrows.

According to ballpark estimates from law-enforcement sources, these schemes have brought tens of millions of dollars into Ramnicu Valcea over the past decade, fuelling the development of new apartments, nightclubs and shopping centres.

Ramnicu Valcea in 2010, is a city whose main export is cybercrime, and business is booming and booming. 

Three hours outside Bucharest, Romanian National Road 7 begins a gentle ascent into the foothills of the Transylvanian Alps. 

Meadow land gives way to crumbling houses with chickens in the front yard, laundry flapping on clotheslines.

But you know you've arrived in the city of  Ramnicu Valcea when you see the Mercedes-Benz dealership. It sits in the middle of grassy field, shiny sedans on display behind glass walls.

And right next door is another luxury car dealer, this one selling various other high-end European rides. It's as if the sheer magic of wealth shimmered these glass-and-steel buildings into existence.

In fact, expensive cars choke the streets of Ramnicu Valcea's bustling town centre    -top-of-the-line  BMWs, Audis, and Mercedes driven by twenty-  and thirty- something men sporting gold chains, fidgeting at red lights.

I ask my cabdriver if these  men all have high-paying jobs, and he laughs. He puts his hands in the air, palms down, and wiggles his fingers as if typing on an imaginary keyboard. 
''They steal money on the Internet,'' he says.

*I meet Begdan Stoica and Alexandru Frunza, two of the just local cops on the digital beat, at an Italian restaurant in a neighbourhood dotted with gated bungalows and apartment buildings.

Stoica and Frunza grew up in Ramnicu Valcea . ''The only cars on the street were those made by Dacia,'' Stoica says, referring to the venerable Romanian carmaker. ''Guys from the Communist Party were allowed to own imported cars like Volvos and Volgas, bought from the Soviet Union.''

Access to information was limited back then; weekdays television consisted of two hours of state-run programming, mostly devoted to covering the dictator  Nicolae Ceausescu. ''We had half an hour of cartoons on Sunday,'' Stoica says.

In 1989, a revolution that began with anticommunist riots ended with the execution of  Ceausescu and his wife, and the country switched to a free market economy. 

By 1998, when Stoica finished high school and went off the police academy in Bucharest- Another revolution was well under way: The Internet. The economy wasn't state control anymore, but the country was still poor.

Ramnicu Valcea was better off than many other Romanian towns, thanks to a decade-old chemical manufacturing company headquartered there and a modern tourism industry based on the surrounding mountains, historic Churches, and a 17th-century monastery.

But life was still tough for most of the city's residents, and many young men and women struggled to find work.

As buying and selling on the  Internet  took off, online scamming emerged in a new to steal money.

Ramnicu Valcea  produced some of the pioneers in the business. Cyber Cafes enabled cheap, anonymous access to the  Internet, and crooks in Ramincu Valacca got busy, posting fake ads   -on sites like Craiglist, AutoTrader, and eBay.

That lured victims into remitting payments by wire transfer. complaints about the town started in 2002.

In the early days, the suspects weren't exactly geniuses. One of the first cases involved a  guy-posting ads for  mobile phones, with another man picking up the money.

They had collected $2000 from three victims in the United States, but they were so green that the guy receiving the cash hadn't even bothered to using a  fake ID.

''I found him sitting in an Internet Cafe, chatting online,'' says Costel Ion, a cop from the nearby town of Pitesti who was then working the cybercrime beat.

''He just confessed.''

But most scammers got away with it because only a fraction of victims complained, and only subset of the complaints triggered investigations. 

Some dozen of students/youngsters in Ramnicu Valcea had entered the fray.

The Honour and Serving of the ''Operational Research'' on  *Cybercrimes* continues. Thank Ya all for reading and sharing forward. 

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society and the ecosystem 2011:

''' Cyber Cruising '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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