In the short time I’ve been blogging, I’ve written relatively often about automated CC stores. These websites offer fraudsters an automatic way of buying stolen credit cards – simply fund an account with e-currency, choose which type of card you would like, pay and receive the full credential. Their popularity has reached such a fever pitch, CC store kits are traded in the underground in the same fashion as phishing kits. Very few respectful vendors are without one. In a recent post on his blog, Dancho Danchev exposed some of the stores, providing a glimpse into this booming market. Recently, we’ve encountered a new development in the underground in regards to these sites – forums opening “official” stores.
In the old days when a fraudster was interested in selling credit cards, he had to join a forum and be formally inducted by other forum members who would vouch for him. This process required him to send a few sample cards to the forum’s moderators, who tested the cards and wrote a review. If the fraudster passed the review, he’d get a “verified vendor” status – a stamp of approval by the forum that the vendor is indeed legit. This process was put into place mainly because of the high volume of forum members that used to rip off other fraudsters, “rippers” in fraudster terminology. However, when the CC store fad started, vendors moved their business out of the walled garden of the forum. While this protected the vendors from any rippers masquerading as buyers (as everything is automatic and there’s no way a ripper can beg for free samples), it didn’t protect the buyers. Picking up on the trend, “rippers” started building their own stores – fake ones – that required an initial fee to get into them. Once this fee is paid, the ruse was exposed and the ripped off buyer realized that the store never existed.
Cue “official” CC stores, which are operated by the moderators of the forums to which they are associated. This provides buyers with the security that they are buying from a legitimate place, with the knowledge someone will be able to offer support in case there’s trouble. However, considering that stores’ reputations are well known and avoiding being ripped off by a fake store is something easily avoidable, the moderators’ efforts are not purely for the good of the community – but naturally, for their own profit. Running a forum improves the administrators’ and moderators’ reputation and masses prospective buyers into one place. These “official” stores are simply their way of cashing in on the situation.
As the popularity of automated CC stores continues to rise, we’ll see additional developments in this field. These stores change the way business is conducted in the underground, allowing fraudsters to be stealthier and enabling vendors to trade their wares and services (not just credit cards) with greater efficiency. You can be assured that if we find such a development – I’ll blog about it.