More Info On The $9.87 Credit Card Scam

MGD at dslreports read our post last night about Prophotosland.com and its fraudulent charge to reader Megan’s credit card. He’s been following the scammers—”an organized crime syndicate operated from Eastern Europe”—for nearly three years now, and has a ton of highly valuable information on them, including their recent targeting of military personnel stationed overseas. Bottom line: cancel your credit card, Megan, because they’ve got access to it now—and report the charge as fraudulent rather than dispute it.

Here’s MGD’s email to us:

I wanted to advise your that the fraud charge from prophotosland.com is part of a massive fraud operation perpetrated by an organized crime syndicate operated from Eastern Europe. This long running multi-year fraud operation has been hijacking millions of dollars a year from consumers debit and credit cards, virtually undetected by the financial institutions. They utilize an elaborate scheme that takes advantage of several weaknesses in the merchant account vetting system. The criminal enterprise is driven by the ability to obtain vast amounts of consumer card data.
 
I have been tracking and documenting this crime syndicate for almost three years, and have several hundred hours of research into the project. prophotosland is a subdivision documented here:
 
“fraud: www.prophotosland.com & www.photogey” [dslreports]
 
However, the master story of the criminal enterprise is here:
 
“Ebook websites, fraud charges, Devbill/DigitalAge/Pluto” [dslreports]
 
A few months ago Shaun Waterman, the UPI Homeland and National Security Editor ran a story on one aspect of the case which was published here:
 
“Analysis: Detroit trial shows cyber-scam” [UPI.com]
 
Recent victims of this fraud have included US military personnel including many stationed in Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Germany. There has been many reported cases of hardship as a result of having to cancel their cards due to their location. There are numerous military victim reports on the net. The first reports began shortly after rangerjoes.com database was hacked by these criminals. Many of the overseas victims had purchased supplies from there before heading offshore. Military victim reports began to show up around here:
 
Military reports on main thread [dslreports]
 
and in numerous other places on the net. Mostly under searches of the phone numbers from the fraudulent sites as they were listed on the line item charges on the statements.
 
Regards,
MGD

Comments

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  1. How horrible you gotta be to steal from people serving in the military…

  2. paraecho says:

    I noticed this charge on my credit card 2 months ago. I reported the charge as fraudulent and closed the account. I also filed a complaint with IC3. Always review your statements!

    [www.ic3.gov]

  3. @verucalise: Nevermind military servicemembers. Most of them can take care of themselves. Besides, ripping off our men in uniform is a time-honored tradition in this country. How about ripping off those who can’t readily defend themselves, like the aged. In my book, ripping off Grandma is a lot worse than ripping off G.I. Joe, no matter how strenuously one may wave the flag in people’s faces.

  4. howie_in_az says:

    The first reports began shortly after rangerjoes.com database was hacked by these criminals. Many of the overseas victims had purchased supplies from there before heading offshore.

    I wonder how they did that. If it was a simple SQL injection then holyshit, lawsuit in the making.

    All the more reason for companies to not store credit card data in their database, I don’t care how ‘inconvenient’ it is to have to type it in again.

  5. octoSink says:

    This is some real Grand Theft Auto IV stuff. Which comes out today.

  6. oldgraygeek says:

    bottom line:
    Watch Your Accounts… ONLINE.
    The risks involved with monitoring your bank & credit accounts over the Internet — especially if only you do so from your own PC, and it’s reasonably secure — are far outweighed by the benefits of spotting this kind of charge RIGHT AWAY vs. when the paper statement finally shows up.

  7. Nytmare says:

    Is there something magic about keeping the charge under $10.00 that lets them get away with it?

  8. Parting says:

    EXCUSE ME??? Than why our credit cards still offer merchant accounts to those crooks? Huh?

    Recently major credit cards closed merchant accounts of several LEGIT eastern music stores, that sold dmr-free music cheaper than it’s USA’s competitors.

    So why can’t they BLOCK REAL crooks who steal 9.95$ at a time?

  9. AaronZ says:

    How is it that the Credit Card companies still *allow* known scammers to make charges against their cards?
    Wouldn’t it make sense that the CC company blacklist all charges from “Prophotosland.com”

    Unless the CC company gets some cut of the scam and its not in their best interest to end it.

  10. @verucalise: Why would the Eastern European organized criminal gangs care one way or another if they’re ripping off US servicemen? It’ll probably make them enjoy the fruits of their “labor” even more so knowing that they caused harm to the US military.

    It’s amazing how freely these criminals can operate in the former Soviet bloc countries. And nobody in the West is doing jack shit about it.

  11. @Victo: Yup, it’s amazing, isn’t it. Sell “bootleg” CDs out of Russia, and you’re done. Steal $9.97 at a time from US citizens FOR YEARS, and you can continue doing that forever.

    I sure am glad everyone’s got their priorities straight on this.

  12. RoxnSox says:

    We had a charge from them about 2 months ago. The credit card company (Capital 1) caught it, informed us there was a problem and reissued to a new account. Pretty smooth transition for us actually.

  13. jeff303 says:

    @octoSink: Nah it’s more reminiscent of “Grand Larceny 3″ (yet to be released)

  14. elephantattack says:

    Man, I just checked my account for my US bank credit card… Mysterious 14 dollar charge from “ebay”. I don’t even buy things on ebay!
    And about two weeks ago I had a similar run in with a different card for $84 from some shady sounding “software company. I had that charge removed and canceled that card but man… This is absurd… where the heck are they getting my numbers?! I don’t buy things very often and only from sites I trust. pure BS.

  15. D-Bo says:

    @verucalise: You realize they’re Eastern Europeans and could care less that they are AMerican military personnel.

  16. TPK says:

    This sounds like a job for a new anti-fraud Special Forces Unit. No Prisoners Allowed. We could use something similar for the criminal spammers in the same region as well.

  17. theblackdog says:

    @Steaming Pile: What about those servicemembers who are deployed and have no access to internet, telephone, and may have physically left those cards at home? They have no clue this could be happening to them.

  18. jcoltrane says:

    The massive scale of this outfit (detailed at [www.dslreports.com] ) is alarming.

    This is a large, organized, patient organization stealthily skimming millions of dollars a year out of our economy. This is a huge story if anyone wants to cover it, rather then just nipping at the tentacles of it which seems to be all the media has done so far.

    Scary stuff.