Hackerville: The Epicenter of Romanian Hackers

Scammers and hackers often originate from Ghana, Nigeria, Romania, Korea, Israel, Columbia, Argentina, Philippines, Malaysia, and, of course, China and the good old USA. These developing countries breed MIT-like hackers who spend all their days targeting consumers and Internet users like you and me.

But Râmnicu Vâlcea is different. Wired describes the odd contrast between flapping clotheslines and the luxury Mercedes-Benz dealership in this small Romanian town, where young men in expensive jewelry drive luxury cars, all paid for with money from eBay scams, Craigslist scams, advanced fee scams, ATM skimming, phishing, infiltrating databases, new account fraud, and account takeover fraud.

Early scams were obvious but successful. English is a second language to Romanian scammers, so over the past decade, consumers caught on to the broken English and typos typical of phishing emails or classified scams. Romanian scammers responded by hiring English speakers to clean up their communication and give them an appearance of legitimacy.

Over time, U.S. authorities and corporations who were being defrauded caught on to Romania being the hub of organized computer crime, and so began flagging wire transfers, product shipments, and credit card orders. In response, scammers developed a distribution chain involving “mules,” who often ship products or collect money in countries like the United Kingdom, in order to avoid authorities monitoring Romanian IP addresses.

There are sophisticated anti-fraud companies that work around the clock to stay ahead of scammers to make the Internet a safer place to conduct business and interact.  One such company is Oregon-based iovation Inc. They have a highly effective fraud protection service called ReputationManager 360 offering device reputation management to determine if a PC, smartphone, or tablet has been used to commit fraud, regardless of the country of origin. Their device reputation management is the only solution that leverages the shared experience of global brands across numerous industries, with thousands of fraud professionals from major online brands reporting and sharing fraud and abuse attempts each day.

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation, discusses another databreach on Good Morning America. (Disclosures)