Headline May 06, 2016/ ''' THE BUSINESS *OF* DIGITAL FRAUD '''



PAKISTAN  -the first historic host and trustee of the World Students Society  -I am made to understand, is well equipped-

For the  *usefulness and capability*  of a cybercrime unit. The unending War on Terror has added many, many dimensions. The Minister of Interior, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, is just. far too brainy, and  professional, not to reason, the ever ubiquitous dire national needs.

In the near future, I hope to drop by the Minster's office and see if I could get to see the  *Federal Investigation Agency's [FIA]*  Cyber Crime Unit. Time to pick some operations and stories for education on  !WOW!.      

OUT -UP AND ABOVE THERE IN TOR   -the unstructured gold mine, is the international network of  master money mules, brilliantly known as Arrows.

In and around 2010,  the number of  Internet-fraud-victims in the United States began to climb steeply and dramatically  -only the tip of the iceberg -went from:

75,000  in  2002   to   337,000  in  2009, and with total losses climbing to and beyond  $560 millions. FBI agents in the  US  and Bucharest [the bureau posts agents at the embassies to assist with international investigation] homed on Ramnicu Valcea as a hub.

The tip-off?  Nearly $10 million was wired to the town in 2005. The cops were on to them, but the scammers quickly adapted. 

One early innovation was ask victims to send the payment not to the seller directly but to an escrow service,  -a third party with a fake website resembling that of an established company.

The stories that were used to con victims got better of the years. To demystify unbelievably low prices for used cars, for example, a common ruse involved a  US soldier stationed in Europe who had to sell a vehicle on short notice because he was getting transferred.

As potential victims got savvier, the fake sellers began offering to send the car for inspection  -asking for no payment except  ''shipping''.

Scammers refined their tricks,  hiring native English speakers to draft e-mails to targets in the US. Specialists emerged : designer of fake websites and phone workers with reassuring voices.

By 2005,  Romania had become a dirty word in the world of online commerce, and buyers became wary of sending money to Ramnicu Valcea and other Romanian towns. But the thieves adapted again. They arranged for payments to be picked up by accomplices in other European countries. 

This proved to be a turning point, elevating the industry from a small-scale criminal activity to an international organized crime. The crooks in Ramnicu Valcea   began linking up with a global network of confederates, people who would act as couriers and money launderers for a cut of the take. 

Most of the so-called  arrows  were Romanians living in Western Europe and the US; some were youngsters from  Ramnicu Valcea who had moved overseas for this very purpose.

*An  arrows  job was to go to wire transfer offices to collect remittances wired by victims, then turn around and wire that money   -minus his commission  -directly to the scammers.

A little after  11 pm, Stoica hushes our conversation and tells me to turn around and check out a table across the courtyard, where a small group of flashily dressed young men has just arrived with a couple of blonde women barely out of their teens. The men are all under investigation. ''It's a small city,'' he says.

Defining Ramnicu Valcea's city centre is a tower shopping mall that looks like a giant glass igloo. The streets around it are lined with gleaming storefronts  -leather accessories,  Italian fashion.

Driving past a block of low-rise buildings with neatly trimmed hedges. Stoica glances at the license plates of vehicles parked on the street, then points to a  BMW SUV owned by a guy whom his team charged last year.

''I don't know if the people of Ramnicu Valcea are too smart or too stupid,'' Stoica says grimly. ''They talk a lot of to each other. one guy learns the job from another. They ask their high school friends:

'Hey, do you want to make some money? I want to use an arrow.' Then the arrow learns to do the scams himself.''

Michael Macy, a professor sociology at Cornell university who studies social networks, says  Ramnicu Valcea's development as a nerve centre of cyber fraud may have been driven by the same kinds of factors that drive cities   -or areas within cities-

Like the fashion district of New York  -to specialise in certain industry.''To the extent that there is some expertise required, friends and family members of the original entrepreneurs are more likely to have access to those resources than they would if they were  in a isolated location,'' Macy says.

Gary Dickson, a supervisory agent with the FBI, points out that the public's sympathies, at least in some of the cases that have gone on trial, now seem to lie with defendants. The argument is ''Uh, he was just ripping off Americans,'' Dickson says.

Amid new construction on what seems like every block, what really stands out in Ramnicu Valcea are the   money transfer offices. Some 100,000 people live here, but at least two dozen Western union storefronts lie within a  four=block area downtown.

The transfer centres are to Ramnicu Valcea what diamond cutting mills are to Antwerp: They are where the moneymaking business gets done.

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

With respectful dedication to the *Cybercrime Investigation Agencies* the world over, Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society and the Ecosystem 2011:

''' Cache of Evidence '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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