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The Brave New World of Cyberheists / Seattle Weekly

Society & Culture  (tags: cyberheist, work-at-homejobscams, mules, moneylaundering, deepnet, darknet, Russiangangs, trafficking, Interpol, cybercriminals, unwittingacomplices )

- 1613 days ago -
The Russian cyberheist was carried out with the help of nearly 100 different accomplices in the United States, who were HIRED THROUGH WORK-AT-HOME JOB SCAMS run by a crime gang that has been fleecing businesses for the past five years; SCAMMERS EXPOSED.

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Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Friday January 17, 2014, 3:25 am
A fair number of Russian cybercriminals have been arrested by U.S. authorities in recent months, including alleged hacker Aleksander Panin, being held in Atlanta where he’s charged with a $5 million online bank fraud.....

... five days after the Leavenworth heist and two days after it was discovered, security blogger Krebs began calling Cascade Medical Center officials to tell them who likely robbed, or burglarized, their bank account.
The Russian cyberheist was carried out with the help of nearly 100 different accomplices in the United States, who were hired through work-at-home job scams run by a crime gang that has been fleecing businesses for the past five years.....

....As he later recounted in his blog at, he reached out shortly after hearing of the heist because he’d spoken with two unwitting accomplices who’d helped launder more than $14,000 taken from the hospital’s accounts.

One of them, 31-year-old Jesus Contreras from San Bernardino, Calif., had been out of work for more than two months when he received an e-mail from Best Inc., a company supposedly located in Australia. A representative of the “software development firm” said he’d found Contreras’ resume on and that he seemed qualified for a work-at-home job forwarding payments to overseas software developers, keeping eight percent of any transfers. All he needed was a home computer. Contreras, desperate to find work, signed on.

On April 22, Krebs recounts, “Contreras received his first (and last) task from his employer: Take the $9,180 just deposited into his account and send nearly equal parts via Western Union and Moneygram to four individuals, two who were located in Russia and the other pair in Ukraine. After the wire fees—which were to come out of his commission—Contreras said he had about $100 left over. ‘I’m asking myself how I fell for this because the money seemed too good to be true,’ Contreras said. ‘But we’ve got bills piling up, and my dad has hospital bills. I didn’t have much money in my account, so I figured what did I have to lose? I had no idea I would be a part of something like this.’ ” It didn’t pay off, either, at least for Contreras. Bank of America, tracking the transfers after Chelan County discovered the losses, froze Contreras’ account and those of others involved.

The county treasurer’s office did not respond to our requests for comments, and the Spokane office of the FBI is still investigating the case. But county treasurer David Griffiths told The Wenatchee World last summer that $414,800 had been recouped by the bank, with another $100,000 in disputed funds that could later be recovered. The rest, roughly $500,000 to $600,000? “It’s gone,” Griffiths said. “Probably gone to Russia.”

The fake company that hired Conteras and others, Krebs notes, is part of a transnational organized cybercriminal gang operating in Russia and Ukraine.
“Its distinguishing feature is that it operates its own money mule recruitment division. This eliminates the middleman and increases the gang’s overall haul from any cyberheist.” The gang has several telltale signatures and has hit small to mid-sized organizations, stealing many times more than the millions taken from Chelan County, Krebs thinks. In fact, he suspects the county may have got off easy.

“The bank accounts that were hacked also are used to administer 54 other junior taxing districts in the county,” he says. “My guess is this attack would have been worse, but that the fraudsters simply exhausted their supply of money mules.

“Just as real-life bank robbers are restricted in what they can steal by the amount of loot that they can physically haul away from the scene of the crime,” he adds, “the crooks behind these cyberheists are limited in how much they can steal to how many money mules they can recruit to help launder the fraudulent transfers.”

Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Friday January 17, 2014, 3:40 am

"Cute young thing" says her "roommate made umpteen dollars easy at home with her computer and bought a Lexus"....
That "Cute young thing" is nothing but a STOLEN PICTURE, and a STOLEN NAME {not having any relationship with each other!};
just GOING to that site at all, I wouldn't recommend, as IDENTITY-THEFT and CREDIT-CARD INFO THEFT are possibilities...
And even a "sophisticated", but jobless and desperate, person like Contreras, FELL for the "offer" and became a "MULE" - carrying out the business of an INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL GANG.
THAT is what is REALLY being offered by those annoying "work from home" ads.

By the way, the STOLEN MONEY is being used to FINANCE, among other things:
HUMAN TRAFFICKING, including Trafficking of Women and Children for Sexual Exploitation
TERRORISM, and Civil Wars over Minerals, Gold, Diamonds, etc.
and, POACHERS AND INTERNET SELLING OF ANIMAL PARTS, including Ivory, Rhino Horns, parts of Tigers, etc.....
THAT'S what those "Cute young thing" ads are REALLY ABOUT.
When you see them, think of POACHERS, Endangered Species...
I'm just TRYING to WARN ya.......

Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Friday January 17, 2014, 3:45 am
What happened to the millionaire ballplayer and the billionaire bachelor could have happened on a lesser scale to any average Jane or Joe—though in this economy, they’d perhaps be more alert to spiking bank charges.

The elderly and the uninformed are commonly victims of e-mail and social-media cyberscams: the “advance fee lottery” trick, for example, a message saying you’ve won a large sum of money but requiring an advance fee to cover prize-delivery expenses (which can lead to ID theft as well).

Fortunately, as security consultant Krebs points out, “Most cybercrime against consumers is reversible: That is, if the consumer is defrauded through their debit or credit card, they may be temporarily inconvenienced, but as long as they file a fraud claim with their bank or credit-card company, they are generally not liable for those charges.” Last week, retail giant Target said as many as 100 million customers may have been affected by a massive pre-Christmas hack attack on its accounts (banks would cover any customer losses but could sue Target to recover those funds). Shortly after the heist, Krebs reported, the stolen card data was already flooding the black market, including to a popular underground store called Rescator, where each card was sold for anywhere from $20 to more than $100 per card.

Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Friday January 17, 2014, 3:57 am

The Seedy Underbelly of Cyberspace - technobuffalo

Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Friday January 17, 2014, 4:02 am

Jesse Willms: Dark Lord of the Internet

Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Friday January 17, 2014, 4:08 am
CROSS-REFERENCE: [Corrected - THIS is the URL for this story!]

The Seedy Underbelly of Cyberspace - technobuffalo

Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Friday January 17, 2014, 4:29 am
There are References on Wikipedia, and the Guardian [British newspaper], among other places:

You can look up such subjects as Deep Web, Dark Web, TOR, bitcoin, Silk Road, RussianBusinessGroup...
on & on it goes....

Atlantic magazine, The Seattle Weekly [Rick Anderson]... more stuff coming to light all the time...

And THIS is why those ads should BE DELETED AS SOON AS THEY APPEAR here, they are DANGEROUS...
there are ALWAYS the careless, the unwary.... we have a RESPONSIBILITY to them, even if we think they're "stupid" and WE wouldn't fall for these CYBER-SCAMS... there are enormous sums of money involved, for Illegal and Immoral purposes, not on the up-and-up... very, VERY Dark things... we want nothing to do with that, here!!!

Angelika R (143)
Friday January 17, 2014, 5:13 am
Nice once again.. I'll just pick up from the article's headline and throw that in here- hopw we'll find an answer..
" Is there any hope for the rest of us? " -----

Angelika R (143)
Friday January 17, 2014, 9:54 am
Note: if frans is tracking by any chance-I would have a message for him of importance, re his post with the Avaaz petition! Unable to submit any comment there..

roxy H (350)
Friday January 17, 2014, 1:46 pm
Ty dear B, and WOW, i got called away a day and all HELL-O breaks out on homesite! you bad girls! geesh. well 2 weeks into recovering and now i feel sassy and ty for all your hard work. I know it has been catching attention in the high news look darling, TARGET was affected with the same people, you realize this right? You caught the Target scam KAPOW... yes my dear... you are wrapped into the news.. same as today... duck into the shadows..or not..just be careful... here is a link from today...

Massive Target data breach strategy 'new to eCrime': security report

Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Friday January 17, 2014, 2:29 pm
Causes Article:

The $19 billion global black market in wildlife is not only threatening the survival of elephants hunted and other endangered species. It is threatening the very stability of governments, says a just-released study (pdf) by the conservation group WWF. Rebel groups are using funds from trafficking to purchase weapons and finance civil conflicts and even terrorist cells.

John Scanlon, secretary general of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), said that rebel groups are literally “cashing in” on world-wide demand for elephants, tigers and rhinoceros, whose body parts are in high demand in parts of Asia for use in traditional medicine. In northern Cameroon, Chad, the Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, 450 elephants were slaughtered last year and their ivory directly used to finance arms and bribe government officials. The number of rhinos killed for their horns (worth some $600,000) has risen from about 20 a year to an expected 600 this year.

The illegal sale of animals and plants is, says the study, the fourth largest kind of illegal trading in the world, after narcotics, counterfeiting of products and currency and the trafficking of people.

The study is based on interviews with 15 government officials and seven representatives of international organizations that deal with trafficking. But two government officials objected to answer questions about government corruption and Vietnam, which has become a central market for the illicit trade in rhino horns, refused to participate.

Organized Crime Has Entered the Illegal Wildlife Trade
Even more, the WWF report suggests that “ power and sophisticated crime syndicates” are behind a huge rise in the illegal wildlife trade. The internet has also played a role as it has made illegal products available to many, many more

Read more:

'"power and sophisticated crime syndicates” are behind a huge rise in the illegal wildlife trade. The INTERNET has also played a role as it has made illegal products available to many, many more...'

And THAT, boys and girls, is the ULTIMATE PURPOSE of those "annoying ADS" that appear on weekends on OUR ANIMAL-LOVING SITE HERE.....!!!!!?????

Angelika R (143)
Friday January 17, 2014, 2:51 pm
These scammers make it so easy even shamelessly using nearly the same words "cashing in"...sufficient, no?

Angelika R (143)
Friday January 17, 2014, 2:57 pm
"My 2" weekend scams on two of the frontpage stories(always attacked first) were removed after reporting within 12 hours. Hope that was NO EXCEPTION! Still too slowly. However, completely illusionary to ever expect a weekend staff watch on C2.

Ellen J (62)
Friday January 17, 2014, 3:07 pm
Thanks for the article. Awful stuff.

Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Friday January 17, 2014, 3:11 pm
I have always held that it would PAY IN THE END, to have PAID EMPLOYEES to do this WORK - I believe it wouldn't BREAK them financially! And it would ADD SECURITY - just like other Businesses have to ADD SECURITY these days, on the Internet or in "real life".
But I have yelled this out, for a long time.....
I think they'd see it would REALLY BE WORTH IT, in the end... but maybe they need a WORSE SCANDAL, like Target, along those lines..... I SHUDDER! to think of that...

Angelika R (143)
Friday January 17, 2014, 3:17 pm
I know you've been preaching to the choir Barbara.. good point there-maybe they do need that....or..maybe it is..something else with them ?? ;-) hmmm.. (no cure for stupid, no cure for greed)

Yvonne White (229)
Friday January 17, 2014, 3:33 pm
Thanks for posing BMutiny! And Right on Angelika: "no cure for stupid, no cure or greed"..:(

Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Friday January 17, 2014, 3:44 pm
Well, I've been "preaching to the choir",which is YOU guys - and, I've ALSO been trying to get to Management, in the group Feedback&Suggestions. Just get in trouble there.
Would've posted in Zen Whisperingtree's group, too, but Zen AND her group got BOOTED for, apparently, being TOO HONEST in Criticism.
I am currently trying to avoid a similar fate! by skating close to the edge, but not over, I MIGHT make it...
Angelika, you're kinda gettin' close there, too... not where you wanta go...
Management very touchy when it comes to their Rep...

Yvonne White (229)
Friday January 17, 2014, 3:58 pm
I just noticed I dropped the "t" in "posting"..I got a star from Zen for signing the petition, does that mean Zen's back? Just Zen, or the group too?

Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Friday January 17, 2014, 4:09 pm
I got a star from Zen, but she's still out, I've been told. Can't access her Profile at all.
I guess she can still do SOME things. Sure hope that means they'll RELENT!!!

[Notice that I now use Pronouns and circumlocutions instead of Naming Names! Feeble effort to protect myself from a similar fate to Zen's... apparently Naming Names, and offending individuals, helped lead to her "downfall"...]

SusanAWAY Allen (219)
Friday January 17, 2014, 4:24 pm
Noted and shared.

Also, the 3rd petition for Zen has now been removed and is no longer available. I really am not happy about this at all.

Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Friday January 17, 2014, 5:12 pm
What I am trying to Establish here -
and believe that I HAVE Established beyond any doubt -

is a DIRECT LINK between those "Annoying Ads" that come onto threads especially on the Weekends, come on by the DOZENS all at one time! - the "easy money easy living work at home from your computer says Cute Young Chickie" ads -

and, via RUSSIAN CYBER-CRIMINALS, aided by U.S. CRIMINALS such as JESSE WILLMS, recruiting thru THESE VERY SAME ADS, deceptively recruiting MULES to use the Internet to LAUNDER MONEY sent all over the place, ending up in CRIMINAL HANDS -

Drug and Weapons and HUMAN and ANIMAL TRAFFICKING. POACHED ANIMAL PARTS which trafficked on the Internet - the only place they CAN be sold! without the Law stopping it! - leading to FUELING TERRORISM AND CIVIL WARS and mass deaths resulting from that...

There is a REAL DIRECT LINE HERE, that can be TRACED.
Annoying Ads - Credit Card and Identity Theft - recruiting "Mules" to pass Illegally-gotten money around in Cyberspace - Super-wealthy super-Criminals - Trafficking of all kinds on the "Dark Web" - Very lucrative Poaching and killing and selling body parts of Elephants, Rhinos, Tigers, etc. - Fueling Terrorism, Fanaticism, and Civil Wars.

No use hiding one's head in the sand!
I HAVE DONE THE RESEARCH - and ANYone can Replicate and Verify the SAME RESEARCH, thru multiple Channels!

THAT'S why I am so CONCERNED about those "Annoying Ads" - do they BELONG HERE? on a site that DOESN'T SUPPORT POACHING to say the least???
You better SAVE THIS POSTING if you want to keep it - I am going to! - 'cause it MIGHT NOT BE ON HERE FOR LONG...

Angelika R (143)
Friday January 17, 2014, 6:06 pm
It appears that NONE OF YOU are or were following Christeen's post ( which has grown into an XXXL thread-so get your info there I'd suggest!
Barbara, thx for warning :-) -you can read my comment re THIS also on THAT thread. Thx also for obviously having picked up my timid implication further above..

Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Friday January 17, 2014, 7:00 pm
Angelika, thank you for steering me to that post.
The comments on it were WONDERFUL - in fact, I wanted to SAVE some of them - but I never got the chance!

The Third Petition for Zen Whisperingtree DISAPPEARED after I'd read it, and just before I could actually sign it!
Now, THIS THREAD HAS DISAPPEARED - after I had read the long thread, and I wrote my post for it, commending Zen! As I tried to post - WHOOOSH! the Thread disappeared....
Care2 Support did make several posts on that thread, just before they "disappeared" it. Basically saying this is a "private matter", is being resolved, blah blah. At least, WE GOT THEIR ATTENTION! That's something.
[Maybe this is taking the heat off ME.... oh, that's selfish!] I have the feeling they'll cave... threats by members of boycotts and mass exoduses loomed...
So many GREAT - and TRUE! - things said about Zen, I'm glad she got the chance to read them, I'm glad we all got the chance to read each others' comments.... {well, not mine...}
It is just HEARTBREAKING that this happened, and I understand that Zen had been not feeling well, was in an accident or something... BRUTAL that "Support" {HAH!} would shove her off and try not to have us EXPRESS OUR FEELINGS TOWARDS HER... so she'd KNOW...

Here's what I was GOING TO POST:
'I only just now became aware of this thread here. Thank you, Angelika.
I have nothing much to add to what has already been said, in many cases so VERY well-put.

Zen has been a GODSEND to me, helped me with Tech issues that even NOW would be a problem if it hadn't been for Zen! And she has the GIFT of explaining things so well in the simplest terms - that even superannuated non-techies like myself could understand!
She has been such an ASSET to Care2 I can't believe they don't realize it - as a Volunteer she saved them paying a STAFF of people to do what one person did! They should BEG to have MORE people like her - and her groups were a NECESSITY. Care2 just ISN'T THE SAME without her! as we all feel so deeply...
Apologies are in order... I hope I'm not "jumping the gun" in saying so. Both sides maybe - but ONE in PARTICULAR. And you-know-who... It is true, I have been outraged by some Petitions that were allowed, Petition #3 for Zen happened to disappear JUST BEFORE I got ready to sign it - which was very disconcerting!'

Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Friday January 17, 2014, 7:04 pm
I wanted especially to save the posting that C2 wouldn't stand for comments "tearing down our mission" - I wanted to get the exact wording, that was just a FRAGMENT.

Is trying to make C2 BETTER, "tearing down their mission"? How? No such thing as HELPFUL criticism?

Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Saturday January 18, 2014, 2:46 am
VERY INTERESTING stuff that's coming out now about the massive Target Credit Card Attack:

Haven't I been telling people to BEWARE of having their Info and Credit Card Numbers STOLEN - that there's HI-TECH stuff out there that can do it EASILY?!

"The malware involved something called "memory-scraping," Reuters reported. That means that the moment you swipe your card the malware grabbed your credit card info.
This POS malware seems to be a known variety, spotted as early as June, 2013, Krebs says. It looks like something called BlackPOS that sells on hacker forums for $1,800-$2,300.

Hackers can sell the credit card numbers for $35 - $100 each. Gold or platinum credit cards go for $60 each, business credit cards $80 and some platinum cards, $100, Cisco security researcher Levi Gundert wrote this week in a blog post. That's a stunning potential payback on a $2,300 piece of software.

Read more:

Angelika R (143)
Saturday January 18, 2014, 4:30 am
America would have never gotten herself in this kind of a mess with criminal scale had people NEVER allowed themselves to be taken in by the $$industry! Credit cards became popular over here MUCH MUCH later and things like loosing money never happened before when folks were paying cash. Occasional thefts like purse snatching etc were peanuts in stats. I don't think i ever used MY CCs more than a handful of times. Smart people will always avoid any route that might take them down the debt path.

roxy H (350)
Saturday January 18, 2014, 7:04 am
Zen will be back, this is why she can still access her account. It took Mandy weeks to get back. No one came to her help but me and the wolf army. But, twa is a large org, and we can handle our own. so we will take care of any one of our members getting into harrasing issues. Mandy had multiple complaints from certain people that just simply didn't like her. Total bogus reason to suspend someone, then she came back and posted a song and c2 suspended her for code violation. then twa stepped in. Billion dollar org now. we do carry some weight.

Angelika R (143)
Saturday January 18, 2014, 7:17 am
Roxy girl-like myself, perhaps many didn't even know Mandy was suspended? I had noticed not seeing her for some time, true, but, would have NEVER got this idea behind it! BTW how are Krystal and baby?

Angelika R (143)
Saturday January 18, 2014, 7:19 am
Well, if any suspension from the site usually is for 30 days as s.o. said yesterday then that WOULD indeed make "weeks" to get back.

lee e (114)
Saturday January 18, 2014, 9:00 am
There are all sorts of scammers around trying to take advantage of the naďve and gullible - thanks for the post!

Sherri G (128)
Sunday January 19, 2014, 2:11 am
Thank You B for the information and heads up. TY Angelika, Roxy, Lee and Yvonne for your insight. Noted

Susanne R (235)
Sunday January 19, 2014, 1:55 pm
Does anyone know if Antonella C. has been suspended? I was not familiar with her but had been sent links to some of her articles w/petitions. I got a thank you star from her today, and when I attempted to reciprocate, I was taken to the dreaded "The profile you are looking for could not be found but..." page.

I'm confident that Antonella is a trusted and long-standing member based on the length of her membership, but Barbara's warnings immediately came to mind when that page popped up. What if this person was an identity thief using the petitions to obtain names, addresses, phone numbers, etc.? It's a very legitimate concern, and I laud Barbara and Angelika and Roxy and every caring Care2 member who is trying to draw attention to this potential problem that could have disastrous consequences.

I also applaud you for drawing my attention to ads that roused my curiosity but which, fortunately, I never responded to. I'm talking about those ads that say things like "Dentists hate her! Ordinary mom (from (hometown where reader happens to live) discovers way to brighten teeth using ordinary items found in any medicine cabinet." Based on the article Barbara posted about Jesse Willms, these types of ads would appear to be very dangerous indeed. I've never clicked on any of them, but I never considered how dangerous they might be, either.

These are important issues, and I'm grateful that my Care2 friends are looking out for others. Thank you!

Angelika R (143)
Sunday January 19, 2014, 2:10 pm
No, sorry Susanne, I don't even kniw her other than ny occasionally seeing this name here. Maybe she just chose to hide her profile-? I did notice that some left by going through my comments so far unopened. That was Yvette-as she had predicted on thread and also Penny Norman. There were empty avatars and profiles gone. Have not yet explored it all, perhaps more have left.

Susanne R (235)
Sunday January 19, 2014, 2:26 pm
Thank you for responding, Angelika. Wish I could send you a star...

Angelika R (143)
Sunday January 19, 2014, 2:28 pm
Susanne :) thx but leave those poor butterflies alone! let them fly freely! (>am NO hunter)

Angelika R (143)
Sunday January 19, 2014, 2:46 pm
Hmm..are there perhaps some "middlemen" amongst us after all????????

Angelika R (143)
Sunday January 19, 2014, 3:38 pm
Sounds like they're on your heels Barbara.
BTW-no need to point it out to ME, I got it long ago, I do read you! By "us" I was not necessarily meaning us. ;)

Sheryl G (360)
Sunday January 19, 2014, 3:46 pm
Thank you so much for all of the time and effort you placed into this. Like another member that placed a lot of time into helping the C2 members. We appreciate it, even if others do not. There are so many scams going on that one doesn't have to be stupid to fall for them, these can be real slick con jobs. Is why they still do it, obviously enough people do get reeled in.

Angelika R (143)
Sunday January 19, 2014, 4:05 pm
Sheryl, yes-sigh- you just can't tell everybody to just "move on" and enjoy the site...

Angelika R (143)
Sunday January 19, 2014, 4:11 pm
Hope everyone has noticed that Barbara's comments appear a time later than e.g.mine...
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