Fraud is one of the oldest professions; for as long as people have had things, people have wanted to relieve them of their money or property.
Whereas in the past there was a general policy of ‘no face, no case’, fraud boys have now begun to brag about their ill-gotten gains on social media, sharing pictures of their cars, cash, and holidays paid for with other people’s money.
These lavish lifestyles are often documented on popular image-based app Instagram. One account, Capone Adams, posts videos of himself buying alcohol, holding wads of cash, and what appears to be processing fraudulent transactions.
Whilst the sale of credit cards and accounts is very common on the Dark web, it has now crept into the mainstream web with hackers selling the information through the popular image-based social media platform.
One Vietnam-based user who goes by Old Hacker advertises the sale of credit card information, packages with a people identifying information (fullz), and Paypal accounts.
The anonymous Russian also provides a valued service, which is cash transfers through Western Union, which those sending money being able to stay anonymous.
One former fraudster got involved through a friend’s boyfriend when they were both struggling to pay their bills and rent, and he ended up agreeing to work for the gangster.
“He would give us cards, and we’d go shopping and sell the stuff, sometimes we’d get cash back at the tills. One month I moved around £19,000 worth of stuff; that month I made £5,000.”
Whilst they quit their low-level part in the system after a short time, for many others the lifestyle is highly addictive; fraud makes huge amounts of cash instantly available, and the ability to provide for those around them.
Lucy* grew up in Tottenham where the crime rate is 77 per cent higher than the national average. She told us that most people get involved in fraud in their mid-teen years.
“Basically, a lot of people get into fraud at a young age, as teenagers. They will speak to someone who will say to them, ‘do you want to make a lot of money’, and they will say yes.”
They will then ask if their friends to open accounts, and then ask them if they want to make money. The person at the top of this chain will then deposit illegal, dirty money into one of their accounts for them to withdraw, so it can be laundered – money laundering is the process of taking illegally gained money, and putting it through a transaction in order to make it legitimate to use.
“One reason why people get into fraud is because they want to have bulk money, and a generous amount of it at any given time – that’s not to say that the life of a fraudster is easy, because they will spend Monday to Thursday going through people’s details however they obtain them and figure out if their details match and will be useful for what they are doing”.
[pullquote align=”right”]“It’s much easier for them to rob people from the comfort of their own home”[/pullquote]Once they find suitable accounts, they will deposit the money, and more into foreign accounts also. “The core principle of why people do fraud is because you can do one AC (Accumulated Cash where a hacker will use your account to run transactions) and get a minimum of £7,000. So if you need a bulk amount of money straight away, it’s there for you.”
Social media is often considered a second life, and fraudsters are using their social media accounts to show people what they do and what they’re capable of. However, people also get caught this way.
“In cases where people are living the fast life, they want people to see – this is how they get status in their inner communities to show that they are the guy, because that’s what matters. That’s what people believe matters. They’ll post pictures of a car, forgetting that they are not working a legitimate nine-to-five job”.
Lucy alludes to the facts that in these communities, people seem to respect not only the money, but the fact that people are able to commit fraud. It’s been suggested that the fraudsters get an adrenaline kick from people knowing that they have unlimited funds, not realising that they are potentially exposing themselves.
“People get caught all the time. We are being watched all the time, [the police] are making databases and can hack into your social media; people can see something, and say something without realising the implications of what that has on the person they are talking about”.
Fraud is now being used daily by these perpetrators, from shoes and clothes, to lunch.
Bank manager Phil* sees victims of fraud on a daily basis.“Of course fraud is on the rise now, back in the day, if you were brave enough you could just go and just rob a bank, but now for the effort [the thief would] put in, you just don’t get much money. It’s much easier for them to rob people from the comfort of their own home.”
* = interviewee’s name has been changed to protect their identity.
Featured image by Blatant World via Flickr CC
Source for crime statistics: http://www.propertydetective.com/blog/crime-rate-in-london-borough/