Recently, Turkish citizen Alper Erdogan was sentenced to more than nine years in prison and ordered to pay more than a million dollars in restitution after being convicted of aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to commit computer hacking and conspiracy to commit credit card fraud. Erdogan did not do the actual hacking, but did sell the credit card numbers to other identity thieves. Often the people who do the hacking of major companies such as Target do not use the stolen credit card numbers themselves, but rather sell them through the Internet to other identity thieves on black market websites. One such website is called McDumpals, which humorously has a McDonald’s restaurant theme and shows a caricature of Ronald McDonald pointing a gun at the viewer of the screen next to the words “I’m swipin it” Often payment on these illegal websites is made by bitcoins so that the payments cannot be traced.
One good element of this case is the international cooperation involved in the investigation and prosecution of Erdogan who was extradited by the Republic of Georgia to stand trial in the United States, although it should be noted that it did take almost two years after Erdogan was indicted in Florida for the extradition to occur. The bigger lesson is that once again, people became victims of identity theft because the United States still is lagging behind the rest of the world in issuing and using smart credit cards with computer chips that create a new number each time the card is used. The United States largely continues to use outdated magnetic strip credit card technology that is extremely susceptible to identity theft. It is not expected that retailers and others who process credit cards will switch over to the smart cards until October of 2015 when new regulations will prompt the switch. In addition, it is important to remember that you are only as safe as the places with the weakest security that hold your personal information, such as a credit card so, don’t leave your credit card on record with an online retailer for convenience sake and monitor your credit card usage regularly so you can report any fraudulent charges as soon as possible in order to avoid problems.