Cyber criminals are relying more than ever on mules to move fenced goods from the U.S. to foreign markets for resale, according to a report on krebsonsecurity.com.
With online retailers cracking down on fraudulent purchases, criminal gangs are using networks of complicit or unwitting citizens to act as “drops” that receive items purchased online using stolen credit cards, then forward them to foreign countries for resale. The scams are an increasingly popular way to monetize stolen credit cards, Krebs said.
The report offers an inside look at the underground market for reshipping services. Cybercriminal groups often fool unsupecting individuals into acting as drops using online ads on Craigslist and jobs sites. The ads offer monthly salaries and cash bonuses for reshipping jobs, promoting it as a lucrative stay at home job.
This is not a new idea, but the demand for drops and reshipping services has stepped up since retailers have started barring direct shipments to the parts of the world commonly associated with such scams, like North Africa, Eastern Europe, and Russia.
Krebs said the drops are often victims, themselves, with cyber criminals breaking off ties rather than paying commissions to reshippers.
Krebs infiltrated a drop-recruitment forum where one can rent “drops.” These forums have managers that recruit “drops” by posing as a legitimate business. Krebs describes one such manager, operating under the name Dick Martin. Martin runs a faux-business called applestore-direct.com. Anyone Martin hires as a “drop” is given log-in access to applestore-direct.com, where they can track shipments and receive updates about new shipments. “Drops” also use these sites to communicate with managers.
Interestingly, Krebs tracked down an individual named Kent Tribbett who has allegedly been reshipping for applestore-direct.com for some three weeks. In a brief phone conversation, Tribbett denied having any affiliation with applestore-direct.com and hung up the phone.
Krebs has gone further than other reporters into the organized crime underworld, analyzing money mule schemes and often talking to those who are compelled to work on behalf of the cybercriminal gangs.