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Internet crooks craft creative counterfeiting scam


ShyWriter
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Internet crooks craft creative counterfeiting scam

By JORDAN ROBERTSON,

Associated Press

Think of it as one more reason not to write checks.

Hackers believed to be operating out of Russia have figured out a high-tech way to carry out the decidedly low-tech crime of check fraud, a computer security company says - writing at least $9 million in fakes against more than 1,200 legitimate accounts.

But these hackers got the account information in an unusual way: They broke into three websites that specialize in a little-known type of business - archiving check images online.

Check counterfeiting is a crime that savvy Internet criminals usually pass up. After all, it's far easier for them to make money by stealing credit cards and online banking passwords.

The scam was discovered by SecureWorks Inc., an Atlanta computer security company. The organization says it is working with the FBI and says the hackers have not been caught.

KznK8.jpg - AP Photo/John Amis

In this photograph taken July 22, 2010, Joe Stewart,

director of malwear research for SecureWorks which

manages security information systems for corporations

world wide, is pictured with servers in their Atlanta office.

Retailers and other businesses use the sites to store records of all the checks they write. Check-cashing operations use them to sock away images of checks they receive. And some banks pay them to store images of customers' checks, so the customers can see them when they log in to their online banking accounts.

The criminals downloaded all the images they could find, grabbing bank routing numbers, names and addresses and even signatures of legitimate account holders. They used the information to create their own checks using easy-to-acquire software and printers.

Because all the account information is real and the victims don't know their accounts have been compromised, the odds of the checks going through are high.

SecureWorks notified the three sites and said they have closed their security holes, but warned that the scam is ongoing and targeting other, similar sites.

"It's not the standard kind of criminal operation," Joe Stewart, director of malware research for SecureWorks' Counter Threat Unit, told The Associated Press ahead of the report's scheduled release Wednesday.

"Check counterfeiting is kind of old school, but these guys have figured out how to make it highly automated," he said. "They can get all this data and use that to write counterfeit checks all day long."

(Story continued at http://www.examiner.com/a-2747255~Internet...iting_scam.html )

~Shy

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Scary scary. I'll pass this along to those I know. It's scary how much is going online.. and what (bad) things can happen to/with it.

I myself hardly ever write checks... unless its to a person I know very, very well. I used to write checks otherwise but no longer. I'll rarely use my debit card too; usually it's cash or a money order (for bills) :)

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