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Former Anonymous Spokesperson Indicted for Credit Card Fraud

Former Anonymous Spokesperson Indicted for Credit Card Fraud

Barrett Brown, the former spokesperson for Anonymous, has been indicted for trafficking in credit card numbers. The news broke late last week and reads, in part, that Brown “did knowingly traffic in more than five authentication features knowing that such features were stolen and produced without lawful authority.”

Threats and Social Media

This is the latest in a series of indictments that include making threats across social media sites like Twitter and YouTube and most of those threats were directed towards FBI Foil Robert Smith. The new indictment brings twelve more charges, including trafficking a hyperlink to an internet relay chat, or IRC, aptly named #Anonops, that he controlled. Unfortunately, that link was stolen and included 5,000 -plus credit card account numbers, along with other identifiable information like users names, authentication information, addresses and more. As a result, reads the indictment,

Brown caused the data to be made available to other persons online without the knowledge and authorization of Stratfor Global Intelligence and the card holders.

This has a lot of online rebels worried. It’s important to remember Brown isn’t believed to be a part of the actual Stratfo hack and no one believes he had intentions of actually using the information, but he did have it in his possession and he did supply the vehicle for anyone else wishing to steal it and use it. Not only that, but if law enforcement is that close to the actual hack, those who are responsible are surely concerned.

The question now, is whether this might create a precedent, which could make it difficult for others to include important and legitimate links that cite their sources and link to other material. Ryan Gallagher, a well known journalist, tweeted on Friday,

Link Barrett accused of sharing was also posted on Cryptome + several blogs. Will these websites be indicted for ‘transferring link’ too?

Moments later, Cryptome founder replied and said

Cryptome welcomes publication by you and others of Barrett Brown’s hyperlinks…

Cryptome and Wikileaks

So what exactly does Cryptome do and why is it relevant? It has an easy answer; its goal is to publish what public officials, politicians and others don’t want published.

Officials and their many obsequious cohorts like Stratfor always exceed their authority and use over-reaching indictments and illegal spying to intimidate innocent victims and defendants as well as the public by parading fantastic allegations of threats to their authority.

Based on that description, one might think Cryptome is just another Wikileaks. Hopefully, though, Cryptome will find a way to prioritize what it releases while avoiding putting national security at risk. Unfortunately, it’s now linked with these new indictments and all of those credit card numbers. And, too, those indictments are a pesky reality not only for Cryptome, but for other sites like Wikileaks. Brown has his hands full, but this indictment could jeopardize far more than his freedom.

ID Theft Groups

This news comes as another company announces there are 10,000 active identity theft groups in the U.S. alone. The greatest concentration is found in the southeast U.S. in states such as Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama and other areas like Washington DC and Detroit, according to fraud firm ID Analytics. The company says that most of these crime rings are not professional criminal organizations, but rather, small groups of ‘friends and family’.

It gathers its reports by examining its massive database of credit applications along with several other identity “risk events”. That total is now at 1.7 billion entries; the firm is then able to cross reference information from things like credit applications and fraud reports from banks, wireless companies, credit card companies and others. This is the same company that successfully identified more than 10,000 convicted and registered sex offenders who were living their lives under assumed identities. They were caught sharing social security numbers, which is a huge identity risk for those whom the numbers actually belonged to.

Among the company’s findings:

A four person ring near Indianapolis – which includes two members who are in their 70s and 80s – submitted close to 350 fraudulent credit card applications.

A six person ring in the DC area was discovered with a 52 year old woman leading the efforts. She and her sister used their apartment as a front for their fraudulent activities. Their names have not been released yet because no formal charges have yet been filed.

Clearly, identity theft is growing more sophisticated with each passing day. With indictments being handed down, coupled with the fact there are now more than 10,000 theft rings in the U.S. tempers the seriousness of these growing risks. With the holidays knocking at the door, it’s an ideal time for consumers to double check their credit reports, credit card statements and of course their bank statements. Technology can only go so far and it’s up to each consumer to take a proactive approach in protecting his identity.

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