An explosion of online fraud tools and services online makes it easier than ever for novices to get started in computer crime. At the same time, a growing body of evidence suggests that much of the world’s cybercrime activity may be the work of a core group of miscreants who’ve been at it for many years.
I recently highlighted the financial links among the organizations responsible for promoting fake antivirus products and spam-advertised pharmacies; all were relying on a few banks in Azerbaijan to process credit card payments.
Banks in Azerbaijan that have courted the shadowy trade in spam-advertised pharmaceuticals now have cornered the market for processing credit card payments for fake antivirus software, new data reveals.
In June, KrebsOnSecurity highlighted research from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) showing that Azerigazbank, a financial institution in Azerbaijan, was the primary merchant bank for most major online-fraud pharmacy affiliate programs. By the time that research was published, those programs had moved their business to another bank in Azerbaijan, JSCB Bank Standard.
Fake antivirus scams and rogue Internet pharmacies relentlessly seek customers who are willing to trade their credit card numbers for a remedy. Banks and financial institutions become partners in crime when they process payments to fraudsters.
Published research has shown that rogue Internet pharmacies and spam would be much less prevalent and profitable if a few top U.S. financial institutions stopped processing payments for dodgy overseas banks. This is also true for fake antivirus scams, which use misleading security alerts to frighten people into purchasing worthless security software.