David Thomas is a former con artist who worked for the FBI running a credit-card-trading site used to track crooks, and Wired has begun posting a three-part series about his work.
It was November 2002, and Thomas, then a 44-year-old Texan, was in Washington to collect more than $30,000 in merchandise that a Ukrainian known as “Big Buyer” ordered from Outpost.com with stolen credit card numbers. His job was to collect the goods from a mail drop, fence them on eBay and wire the money to Russia, pocketing 40 percent of the take before moving to another city to repeat the scam.
But things didn’t go as planned
After being apprehended, Thomas switched sides, helping the FBI track and catch criminals.
From bedrise to bedrest, seven days a week, he rode the boards and forums of his and other carding sites using the online nickname El Mariachi. He recorded private messages and IRC chats for the FBI as “carders” schemed to, among other things, sell stolen credit and debit card numbers, defraud the George Bush and John Kerry campaign sites, drain hundreds of thousands of dollars from bank and investment accounts, sell access to Paris Hilton’s T-Mobile account and run phishing scams against U.S. Bank and the FDIC. He did it all while battling denial-of-service attacks against his site and dodging attempts by his old partner Taylor and other carders to track his whereabouts and out him as a fed.
Interesting stuff. —MEGHANN MARCO
This isn’t the first time we’ve encountered Thomas, Small World Podcast did a great interview with him back in July, where Thomas told the listeners, “If you’re not willing to protect yourself from people like me, you will get screwed. It’s not a question of if, it’s when.” — BEN POPKEN