A cybercriminal responsible for running a “carding” website on the Dark Web is going to federal prison for nine years for selling stolen consumer payment information.
Aleksei Burkov, a Russian national, was the operator of a website called “Cardplanet” that sold hundreds of thousands of debit- and credit-card numbers that had been hacked – mostly from U.S. citizens.
The marketplace’s wares came in the form of digital card information that could be encoded on a blank card with a magnetic strip in order to produce counterfeit payment cards. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, selling that data translated into $20 million in fraudulent purchases made using U.S. credit card accounts.
The DoJ added that Burkov also ran an elite invite-only club, where other criminals could pay $5,000 to gain access to an exclusive site where they could sell personal identifying information (PII), hawk malware, and offer helpful illegal services such as money laundering and hacking.
“To obtain membership in Burkov’s cybercrime forum, prospective members needed three existing members to ‘vouch’ for their good reputation among cybercriminals and to provide a sum of money, normally $5,000, as insurance,” the DoJ said in a media announcement on Friday. “These measures were designed to keep law enforcement from accessing Burkov’s cybercrime forum and to ensure that members of the forum honored any deals made while conducting business on the forum.”
Burkov was tracked down and arrested at Ben-Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv in December 2015, and after a long process of approval and appeals, was extradited to the U.S. in 2019. In January, he pleaded guilty to one count of access device fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud, identity theft, computer intrusions, wire fraud and money laundering.
Carding stores are popular on underground cybercriminal forums, with the inventory coming from a variety of sources, including data breaches, hacking/credential theft activities and payment-card skimmers. In the latter case, operations like Magecart insert code on e-commerce sites that allows crooks to capture payment information when unwitting consumers enter it into checkout pages. Last year, it was estimated that Magecart’s infrastructure has become “ubiquitous” on the internet.
This is not the only recent cybersecurity move that DoJ has made. It recently sentenced a former analyst for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) to more than two years in prison after he shared highly classified, national defense intelligence with two reporters. The 32-year-old analyst, Henry Kyle Frese, pleaded guilty in February to leaking the data, regarding foreign countries’ weapons systems, in 2018 and 2019. The DoJ also announced, Thursday, that a 22-year-old man had been sentenced to more than a year in prison for developing Mirai botnet variants that compromised hundreds of thousands of devices worldwide.
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