ID Theft Lucrative For Web Crooks

Deep inside an unmarked building, the U.S. Secret Service tracks an emerging enemy in a secure room called the Secret Service C4, a criminal cyberlab.
One Web site, shut down by the Secret Service, was selling bogus hologram credit cards.

As CBS News Correspondent Bob Orr reports, it's one of hundreds operated by gangs and terrorists trafficking in stolen identifications, credit cards and bank accounts.

Agent Larry Johnson says the same thing that happened some 30 years ago, when organized crime gangs would meet in social clubs, is taking place on the Internet today.

"However, it's more global," says Johnson.

Security experts believe criminals have infiltrated at least one of every three personal computers. Last year alone cybercrime cost people and businesses more than $200 billion worldwide.

"This industry has essentially become more lucrative than the sale of cocaine," says a computer security expert at the World Bank.

Because his life has been threatened he wished to remain anonymous.

"Whether it's terrorists or organized criminal syndicates, it's much easier to hack databases full of personal identifying information than it is to transport drugs," he says.

A small sample of the stolen goods reveals names, addresses, financial data and passwords - all captured off an Internet trading site by U.S. agents.

Heather Maring, who lives in Columbia, Md., had her financial data posted for sale by someone in Amman, Jordan.

She is just one of 10 million Americans hit by cybercrime in the past year. Banks are absorbing most of the losses and trying to keep them quiet.

"Most of the financial institutions are publicly traded and thus their stock value will plummet if bad news hits the markets with regard to security," says the anonymous security expert.

But more than corporate reputations are at stake, as police discovered when they arrested terrorist Imam Samudra for the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings.

On his computer "Internet pages were found relating to sharing of stolen credit cards," says Nicholas Klein of Australia's Canberra Office of High Technology Crime Unit.

Which raises a question: Has your credit card helped pay for a terror attack?

  • Jaime Holguin

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