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Diaries of a Fraudster

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Last week, a fraudster published his own “diary” on the Deep & Dark Web. As far as the typical excitement of reading someone else’s diary goes, it’s a little disappointing. But in terms of providing insight into the mind of a fraudster, there are some juicy tidbits that detail the individual’s rise and maturation as a fraudster.

In this “diary,” which the fraudster titled, “Diaries of a Fraudster”, the individual paints himself as a small-time scamp betting on football games with prepaid VISA cards he’d snagged in data dumps. However, once law enforcement caught wind of him and forced him to ditch his carding side-hustle, he had to get creative and step up his game:

[W]e started to do was putting microphone in big construction stores name that any entrepreneur could go there and buy for several thousand worth of stuff simply by telling the cashier his name and account number. Money was really easy, we just gathered the information from entrepreneurs with our hidden microphone left at the cashier, then we would dress in construction clothes make fake ids and just buy all the stuff we want.

Vignettes like this demonstrate how fraud is a crime that can reward creativity as much or even more than sophistication. A clever scheme doesn’t have to be technically complex for it to succeed without anyone noticing. By identifying internal control failures, for example, someone could pay their own credit card through accounts payable. Check fraud can be as simple as someone in accounts payable writing a check in his own name. Fraudsters will find and exploit the loopholes in any process what won’t be missed or scrutinized until it’s too late.

Documents like “Diaries of a Fraudster” don’t just come into existence on the Deep & Dark Web because someone has an urge to confess or wants to show that their chops match up to their swagger. It’s on walled-off forums and discussion groups where plans are hatched, refined, and tested; and when those plans are discovered, they can be shared amongst fraudsters, discarded, and used to inform new schemes. The people who haunt these forums are always on the lookout for new vulnerabilities. Maybe that means evolving a scam to defraud health savings accounts using a free iPhone app, passing around a convincing new template for a phishing email that looks like a payment invoice, or revealing a vulnerability in gift card account numbers that opens them up to brute force attacks. What’s important to note is that these plots are born in the Deep & Dark Web, and the support that fraudsters need to pull them off and make a buck resides there too.

Here at Flashpoint, we believe that fraud–no matter the size–needs to be caught and mitigated as early as possible. Enterprises need to protect their ability to operate, and to do that they must make better, more informed decisions. Visibility into real threats–even when those threats are unorthodox and difficult to detect through normal means–is vital for providing the context necessary to help organizations understand how these threats could impact their business.

We’ve been tracking threats and the threat actors who perpetrate them through the Deep & Dark Web for years. We’ve seen how the demand for stolen data has hatched all kinds of fraud schemes, how the illegal goods traded in the Deep & Dark Web support these schemes, and how fraudsters take advantage of the anonymity these regions of the internet afford.

If you would like to find out more about our fraud research, or the various ways that Business Risk Intelligence can help identify and protect against these threats, please check out our fraud use cases or contact us for more information.