The cyber crime targeting a Sacramento-area restaurant where hundreds of patrons had their credit card numbers taken from a restaurant computer shows that much more elaborate such schemes have cropped up in recent years, says the Sacramento Bee. Such crimes can be launched simply by an employee’s opening an innocent-looking e-mail that contains a virus that will capture credit card numbers from the store’s computer and transmit them back to the hackers or put them up for sale to theft rings. The same kind of vulnerability can be exploited when an employee visits a website containing a similar virus.
“There’s a heavy influence of that from Eastern bloc countries and China right now,” said Sean Smith, a detective with the Sacramento Valley Hi-Tech Crimes Task Force, a cyber crime agency that includes Sacramento sheriff’s and FBI investigators. “They’re sending out just ungodly amounts of either ‘phishing’ e-mails or viruses to go out and attack systems. They’re using a total shotgun approach.” Most of the credit card fraud and identity theft cases investigators are seeing now involve Internet purchases. U.S. Postal Service spokesman Gus Ruiz said only 2 percent of the identity theft cases postal inspectors investigate stem from mail being stolen. With 175 billion pieces of mail each year, that still amounts to a sizable problem. Internet-related crimes are the big problem right now. “The task force here just in fraud cases will probably take in 250 to 300 a month, and credit cards are a real high percentage of those because it’s just so easy now,” Smith said.