Senior Threat Researcher
François Paget is a senior threat research engineer and one of the founding members of McAfee Labs, where he conducts a ...
Two weeks ago, I posted a blog entry talking about the counterfeiting of legal documents. I have received many comments and requests for further data related to this type of fraud from various Eastern Europe countries, France, and even the United States. Aside from journalists, for whom it is their job, many people have contacted or attempted to contact me. Most of them were curious and friendly, but others flooded my mailbox:
The first request was for the URLs of the websites that provide the services. At McAfee, like at most of our competitors, we almost never disclose dangerous URLs apart from researchers in the business and law enforcement agencies. And in many cases we also employ some internal testing to avoid infection or compromise. When I wrote my blog entry, that URL was safe (no malware, no iframe), but this can change, especially if their owners know it will be visited by many inquisitive people.
The next question was that of the counterfeiters nationalities. No doubt they are Russian speakers.
Another request was related to the abundance of these offers. The site I visited actually contained a competitor blacklist with a dozen or so “disreputable” companies. As they were all restricted to drivers licenses, I carried on further investigations on the passport field. It was not difficult to find other offers with more attractive prices: less than US$1,000 instead of the US$4,000-$5,000 asked by the first one.
In this last offer, I noted the availability of diplomatic passports (price on demand).
If you are not a Google search ninja, you can just check YouTube. There, various well-phrased searches can direct you to the online shop you are looking for:
And regarding the payment methods?Â It seems they all prefer Western Union, but they are not very talkative on this subject. You have first to contact them via anonymous mailing services. (They specify: “no ICQ, no SMS, no phone call.”) However, I discovered another offer, with details about how to place an order.
At last, some people wished to know if these sites offered other materials or services. Some of them sell carding equipment to read/write magnetic cards, but the prices were exorbitant. They quoted between US$9,000 and $11,000; yet many of these devices can be found on Amazon or eBay for $500! Proving the relevance of our previous advice regarding what you toss into your household trash, one site offers fake French EDF (national electricity company) and British Telecom utility bills for Â£10. (In Europe, we frequently use these documents to prove our residency or proof of address.)
Even the envelope is supplied! Seemingly unimportant pieces of paper can interest today’s cybercriminals.