Thursday, June 28, 2007

eBay sends high-tech care package to Romanian cops

Romanian fraudsters are known as Vlads. Vlad Tepes, a Romanian prince, was the inspiration for the original Dracula story. Interestingly enough, some Romanians consider him a a folk-hero, who drove away invading armies. Photo courtesy of Flickr.

We hear a lot about Romanian organized crime being involved in fraud on auction sites. They are also well known in the world of payment (credit/debit) card skimming.

One of the more infamous Romanian fraudsters goes by the name of Vladuz. Vladuz openly mocked eBay for awhile, publically hacking the site and creating an uproar, but he seems to be laying low, recently.

Apparently, eBay is now providing Romanian law enforcement with technical resources. Ed Sutherland (AHN News) reports:

EBay is assisting Romanian law enforcement to detect and stop fraud targeting losing auction bidders. For months, the auction giant said a large portion of online fraud was coming from the Eastern European nation.

First noticed in 2005, criminals in Romania are taking advantage of a gap in the tech knowledge of local police to prey on eBay users that are outbid in auctions.

"The fraudster can see that a user that didn't win was prepared to spend $145 on a particular item," Matt Henley, part of eBay's Fraud Investigations Team, told The fraudsters knew most people used their email account name for their eBay username. The criminals would contact the losing bidder by email away from eBay, offering a second chance to obtain the item.

Since uncovering the fraud, eBay began hiding user names when bids exceed $80.

AHN story, here.

Here is a post, I did on a group that fights Romanian fraud on a volunteer level (although I hear they provide a lot of useful intelligence to law enforcement, also):

Auction Fraud and the Romanian Connection is also a good place to keep up on eBay fraud happenings, or other rants about eBay. Their site can be viewed, here.

For a lot of information on auction fraud, click here.

AOL has a collection of videos showing some of the hacking/fraud activity on auction sites, here.

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