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F-Secure supports fight against Internet money laundering with community approach

  • 19 December, 2007 10:12

<p>F-Secure, the leading enabler for Internet Service Providers and operators to provide security as a service is supporting the work of volunteer activists to expose money laundering web sites run by criminal organisations. Criminals frequently use the Internet to recruit so-called money mules, which enables them to launder stolen funds and money gained from their use of banking-trojans, key-loggers, and phishing.</p>
<p>"We want to support the excellent work carried out by volunteer crime fighters like Bob at Bobbear.co.uk in exposing these activities, and help to build a community of volunteers in the fight against network crime," says Sean Sullivan from the F-Secure Security Labs. People looking for jobs on the Internet can be tricked into becoming part of a money laundering operation in several ways.</p>
<p>The criminals recruit so-called money transfer agents with spam messages and unsolicited emails, by placing job adverts on real recruitment sites, and by creating professional web sites that look perfectly legitimate to the untrained eye. Sometimes the web site is a spoof where the whole template has been stolen from a reputable company. In all cases the purpose of the criminals is to convince the job hunter that the employment opportunity for a money transfer agent is made by a genuine, legal company.</p>
<p>Typically, money transfer agents or financial operators are promised a 5-10% commission for 'processing payments' or 'transferring funds' through their personal bank accounts. After providing their bank details to the criminals - a major security risk in itself - money mules receive transfers of stolen money into their bank accounts, which they withdraw in cash and send to the criminals by using a more anonymous money transfer service, such as Webmoney, E-Gold or Western Union (which are legal services as such).</p>
<p>Hypothetically, the transfer agent is forwarding the money to a software developer in a developing country. In reality they forward the money to criminals. The promise of easy money for a few hours of simple work has lured many unsuspecting people to sign up as money mules. However, when the police and the banks discover money-laundering schemes, it is the money mule at the bottom of the crime chain that is often the first to be caught.</p>
<p>The consequences can be serious. People suspected of receiving and forwarding stolen money may have their bank accounts frozen while they are investigated. Becoming a money mule can also ruin a person's credit history and lead to criminal charges.</p>
<p>Volunteer fraud investigator Bob at Bobbear.co.uk has uncovered a number of e-mail based job scams on web sites that Internet users should be aware of. As part of a Web 2.0 –style community approach to improve security on the Internet, F-Secure challenged interested volunteer experts to carry out further research on other suspected money laundering web sites that will help to get them shut down. The best material sent to Bobbear.co.uk was rewarded with prizes by F-Secure.</p>
<p>The details of the challenge are available at: http://www.Bobbear.co.uk http://www.f-secure.com/weblog/archives/00001314.html</p>
<p>The criminals, who don’t like the information Bob is providing to Internet users, have recently targeted his web site in retaliation. They attacked Bob's reputation by spoofing his domain name and making it look like he was sending out spam, which resulted in an investigation by his own Internet service provider in which they temporarily took his site offline. "Dedicated volunteers like Bob are really helping to improve security on the Internet," says Sean Sullivan from the F-Secure Security Labs. "Collecting evidence that a web site is involved in a money laundering operation is harder than showing it is spreading malware or stealing data from people. But if we all contribute to the research on how people are being deceived by these web sites, there will be greater awareness of the dangers and less people will sign up as money mules. It means a safer Internet experience for everyone in the end."</p>
<p>About F-Secure Corporation
F-Secure Corporation protects consumers and businesses against computer viruses and other threats from the Internet and mobile networks. F-Secure’s award-winning solutions are available as a service subscription through more than 150 Internet service providers and mobile operator partners around the world, making F-Secure the global leader in this market. The solutions are also available as licensed products through thousands of resellers globally. F-Secure has received the Frost &amp; Sullivan 2007 award for Distribution Strategy Leadership. The company aspires to be the most reliable security provider, helping make computer and smartphone user’s networked lives safe and easy. This is substantiated by the company’s independently proven ability to respond faster to new threats than its main competitors. Founded in 1988 and headquartered in Finland, F-Secure has been listed on the OMX Nordic Exchange Helsinki since 1999. The company has consistently been one of the fastest growing publicly listed companies in the industry. The latest news on real-time virus threat scenarios is available at the F-Secure Data Security Lab weblog at http://www.f-secure.com/weblog/.</p>

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