In an expose for MSNBC, Bob Sullivan revealed how AdCops offered intruders $250 to keep a diary and forward the information back to AdCops for review. Two cyber thieves took the offer and provided insight into their daily activities of exploiting stolen credit card information. MSNBC paid the thieves up front for their diaries.
MSNBC's report included extracts from the diaries that AdCops obtained. One criminal's diary alleges that he earns thousands of dollars every month by establishing fake pay-for-porn sites, where he lures victims to enter their credit card information. The thief then uses the stolen data from the unsuspecting user's credit card to buy new and used items, such as laptop computers, that he can easily sell for cash.
The thieves widely trade the credit card data, hoping that rampant abuse of a given card number will make it harder for law enforcement to track the initial credit card thieves. In addition to stealing credit card information, thieves hijack PayPal accounts and use them to pay for purchases at online auctions such as eBay and for goods purchased from vendors of new equipment. The thieves then quickly trade or subsequently resell the goods, using the same online auctions. The diaries also reveal that thieves earn money from advertising networks by placing ads on a private site and using scripts that run 24 hours a day to generate false ad impressions and click-throughs.
AdCops bought the diaries to help expose both the ease and manner in which thieves like these operate. AdCops is a business-to-business (B2B) consortium founded by marketing and advertising professionals Dan Clements and Mike Brown, who say they created AdCops out of the need to minimize online banner advertising fraud. Their consortium now boasts of a membership list that includes credit card companies, banks, merchants, ISPs, and government agencies. Membership is also open to the public.