Lawyer Monthly - June 2022

45 JUN 2022 | WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM peaking broadly, how has the landscape of internet-based crime developed in the US over the past decade? Not only with the emergence of the internet, the rapid growth and development of technology and how technology is now ubiquitous in our daily lives has opened avenues for criminals in areas never thought of before. With the rise in technology, we have seen a drastic drop in the average cost of computers, tablets, cellular devices, blue tooth capable devices. Criminals are learning how to utilise everyday technology to cloak themselves behind laptops cell phones and blue tooth devices to virtually pick pocket our wallets and enter our bank accounts. What forms do these crimes typically take? The location where these crimes are occurring is in every neighbourhood. Just about every street corner, every city and town in Texas is vulnerable. We heavily relay on gas for all our everyday travel and commute to and from work, for all our daily activities. Gas stations are the target for these criminals. An ordinary gas station pump with a few inexpensive tools all available to order on the web can be converted to the source of income for an organised criminal network. Without any detection, that gas station pump can be modified to record and store all credit card information – including pin numbers – used by each person buying gas at that particular pump. Just think to yourself, on any given day, how many people are stopping and getting gas at a pump? How many cards are being run through the gas station pump? A skeleton key purchased online is all it takes for these card skimming rings to access the technology inside gas station pumps. Now couple the skeleton key with downloadable software. A connection cable that interacts with the pump’s credit card reader and a Bluetooth device are all it takes to read every card used at a certain gas station pump. For less than $150 online, a criminal can compromise a pump. The actor then lets the device sit for a day before coming back and downloading credit card information and the pin numbers associated with those cards. The majority of us now pay at the pump when we get gas. When was the last time you recall going inside a gas station to pay for gas? Can you tell us a little about the typical enterprises that engage in card skimming? These are not the organised groups you see on CSI, Law & Order or other TV crime shows. These are not sophisticated hackers sitting behind a computer monitor cracking a binary algorithm and accessing sensitive information from banks. These are small networks of individuals working in groups of generally three to five members that plot to drive to rural areas of Texas and target certain gas stations and certain pumps – mainly those farthest from the attendant. These actors set their devices throughout the city or town and come back, usually at night, to retrieve all the credit card data. Once the data is transferred to a laptop or tablet, they take back the device placed in the card reader of the pump and leave without a trace. This concludes phase one. Phase two then begins: these organised rings use the stolen credit card information to create a forged credit card that is connected to an unknown victim’s bank account. When they use the forged credit card, it will look and appear to belong to the holder of the card, but the transactions will be linked to a victim whose card was used Card Skimmers Beware: Cybercrime inRural Texas Though we often consider cybercrime to be a phenomenon affecting internet-reliant organisations through ransomware or phishing scams, the mass availability of new technology means that anybody can be at risk – even if they are not using a computer. Criminal lawyer Edward G Estrada goes further in depth in this article, using the example of card skimming organisations in east Texas. How did card skimming become so widespread in the state, and how did courts finally curtail the issue? S EXPERT INSIGHT Any time a bank is involved in a financial or cybercrime, the United States Secret Service will be party to the investigation

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