Researchers belonging to Talos Intelligence Group, part of American multinational tech company Cisco, have unearthed 74 different cyber-crime groups on the social media website Facebook. These groups are accused of carrying out activities like buying, selling, and trading stolen credit card details and identity documents. And according to the study, just over a third of a million people are members of the groups.
According to the research carried out, investigators didn’t have to search too thoroughly to uncover the treasure trove of personal information being peddled. There was no level of sophistication to the groups, which were said to be operating “right out in the open“. Even the names of the groups were set to blatant things such as ‘Spammer & Hacker Professional‘.
The level of personal information — and indeed the amount that is being charged by scammers — varies from post to post within these groups. Some of the most basic involve credit cards that are being sold complete with CVVs — the code required from the back of the card to process a transaction online.
And more in-depth options were offered, too, such as ‘spam kits’ that would deliver phishing emails to victim’s email inboxes, encouraging them to visit malicious websites that would steal their data.
Most shockingly, these are not new groups that have recently been created on the social media website. According to Talos, “Despite the fairly obvious names, some of these groups have managed to remain on Facebook for up to eight years, and in the process acquire tens of thousands of group members”. And the same research investigation indicated that at some point, the website would suggest similar scam groups based on their ‘recommendations’ algorithm.
For the social media giant, which has seen a great deal of controversy within the past couple of years, this comes as another blow. Especially considering that the website allowed such groups to operate for nearly a decade without being shut down.
Since the publication of Talos’ research study, Facebook have confirmed that all 74 groups referenced have been closed down. They’ve also said, “We know we need to be more vigilant and we’re investing heavily to fight this type of activity”.
How to avoid scams
The information being traded on these Facebook groups at the time was mostly personal credit cards, plus identity documents like driving licenses. The most likely way that these were obtained was through the theft of a wallet or purse, or discovery of a lost card or cards by an opportunistic thief. Of course, if you lose a card, then you should immediately call your bank to cancel it so that it cannot be used. And if you lose your driving licence, then it should be reported to the Police so that your identity cannot be stolen.
In terms of the other advertised scam services, most rely on the dissemination of malicious, fake emails that appear to come from a reputable source like Apple. Avoiding victimisation in these cases is simply a case of following common sense when dealing with emails — don’t click on unusual links and don’t input your details into strange websites.
If you need any more advice on staying safe online, and how to avoid the most common scams, then get in touch with WiseGuys on 0808 123 2820. We can also provide information the various types of antivirus programs available on different devices.