Romanian police round up alleged phishers

Fishing hook
According to media reports, Romanian police have arrested 20 people suspected of being involved in a scheme to steal banking usernames and passwords off the public through bogus websites.

According to Stefan Negrila, chief of the organized crime police in Timisoara, hundreds of thousands of euros may have been stolen in a scheme which found its victims in Italy and Spain. Money mule accomplices in the countries were hired to transfer cash from hacked bank accounts.

From the sound of things so far, this wasn’t a particularly sophisticated scam. Whereas we are becoming accustomed to hacking gangs on the internet devising malicious spyware which grabs your keypresses as you log into your online bank, and back bedrooms where criminals can produce cloned credit cards, it sounds as if this group are accused of simply creating fake banking websites.

If you visit a bogus website, believing it to be your online bank, and enter your credentials hackers can use them against your real account in a matter of seconds. Through mules they can transfer your cash into another account and then wire it out of the country where the trail may go cold.

If more people were more careful about checking they are really on their banking site before entering their information, old-fashioned phishers like this would have a much harder time.

* Image source: L Marie’s Flickr photostream (Creative Commons 2.0)