Micro-payment scamsters nuked by FTC
Consumer watchdogs over in the USA have rumbled and killed a four-year scam that was brilliant in its simplicity.
Basically, the con involved loads of low-value payments from compromised credit cards made to a number f dummy firms set up by the crooks, say the Federal Trade Commission.
Instead of going for big-buck transactions, which would invariably get them noticed by the authorities, the fraudsters charge small amounts ranging from $0.25 to $9 to escape being found out.
In addition to this, because of the small size of the payments, customers can't be bothered to go through the hassle of chasing them up to find out what they are. There's not many who will want to dispute a payment of $0.25 is there?
So successful was this scam that the crooks made off with a total of $9.5m.
The Reg reports that the FTC obtained court orders freezing the US assets of suspect firms and went after 14 suspected "money mules" - US residents duped into channelling money between the bogus firms - and the crooks masterminding the con, who used banks in Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Estonia.
Fake businesses were set up which had near-identical names to legit firms, which was backed by the use of real federal tax ID numbers, allowing the scammers to trick credit card processors into giving them merchant accounts.
"It was a very patient scam," Steve Wernikoff, a lawyer at the FTC prosecuting the case. "The people who are behind this are very meticulous."
You'll be pleased to know that, as yet, there's been no reports of any activity in the UK.