Tampa, Florida is a one-horse town and proud of it. It does not have the international flair of Miami, lacks the draw of Orlando’s favorite mouse, and misses the decadent spring-break crowd that flocks to Daytona. It is a nice little city, and a good place to raise a family. Not much happens here in sunny Tampa. But today, the Tampa Bay Times reports on an international fraud incident.
- Tampa authorities shut down xDedic, a dark website known as a ‘hacker’s dream’
- The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tampa and two European countries seized the site’s domain names earlier this week.
- The dark web took a hit in recent days, thanks to an investigation run out of the federal prosecutor’s office in Tampa.
- Authorities shut down the xDedic Marketplace, a website that a cyber security firm once referred to as a “hacker’s dream.”
- The site sold access to hacked servers all over the world. Buyers could search the site for information based on price, location and computer operating system, including information about U.S. residents that could be used in identity theft and other financial crimes.
Even though half of Tampa seems to be from Boston, New York and Philly, the big news this time of year is about the Gasparilla Parade, a mythical invention that celebrates the non-existant takeover of the city by pirates.
There are big-time call centers, with Citi, Chase (which I relocated to help open), USAA, Humana, and Capital One; Tampa/St. Pete is also the corporate home for Outback and Hooters.
But, to show how small-time Tampa is, the website was a front and lacked anyone to arrest.
- The feds estimated that the site facilitated $68 million in fraud. No arrests were announced.
- They are hard to track and even harder to arrest and prosecute, which helps explain why U.S. and European authorities didn’t name any names.
- “This game of cat and mouse in cyber related crimes is very sophisticated,” Mehta said. “It is not uncommon for law enforcement to be stymied when it comes to who to arrest.”
- The xDedic site likely launched in 2014 and was run by a “Russian-speaking group of hackers,” according to a 2016 report from Kaspersky Lab, a cybersecurity company.
Tampa, interestly enough, is known for its excellent hockey team, floundering football team, and, best of all, New York Yankee Spring Training. But, Tampa is not known as a cyber-city.
As it hits 68 degrees in Tampa today, and Chicago chills at minus 11, there is a take-away. Fraud happens everywhere. It might start out in some tent in the Ukraine, but it can end up next door, no matter where next door is. Even in sleepy Tampa, FLA.
Overview by Brian Riley, Director, Credit Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group