Global credit card fraud forum busted by police

A two-year worldwide police operation involving the FBI and UK's SOCA has shut down the website Dark Market, a forum which involved criminals buying and selling credit card data.

SOCA (Serious Organised Crime Agency) was a partner in an international law enforcement effort which included the US Justice Department as well as Turkish and German police. The operation has resulted in 56 arrests worldwide with the FBI estimating that $70 million (40 million) of economic loss was prevented.

Here in Britain, SOCA said that five people were arrested in the operation in London, Manchester and Leicester.

"The people involved in this kind of activity have a certain arrogance - they think they are untouchable," said Sharon Lemon, SOCA's Deputy Director of E-Crime told Reuters. "The message today is that no one should feel confident that these forums are a secure place to operate."

Criminals using the forum were part of a virtual network spanning different countries which were involved in the buying and selling stolen financial information. This included credit card data, user names and passwords and equipment used to carry out some of the financial crimes. At its peak the forum had over 2500 registered members.

One of the prime goals of the operation was for the international law enforcement effort to infiltrate the forum and develop intelligence on the members, who were then identified, located and arrested over a sustained period.

The FBI said that a worldwide law enforcement effort was necessary as it needed to be flexible and creative in targeting the online criminal. Leads in investigations often led to internet forums which criminals used to sell and trade credit card data.

"By joining forces with our international law enforcement counterparts, we have been, and will be, successful in arresting those individuals and dismantling those forums," said FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director Shawn Henry.

"The arrests this week in the UK are a good demonstration of the coordination taking place today between the FBI, SOCA, and other law enforcement agencies around the globe."

At the beginning of this month, it was also revealed that the Home Office had agreed to partly fund a new Met police e-crime unit .