To combat white-collar crime, federal prosecutors increasingly are relying on the same law-enforcement tactics used to bust organized criminals like drug dealers and gangsters, the Wall Street Journal reports. In the first such prosecution, the Justice Department is arguing that people using a website to buy and sell stolen credit-card numbers broke the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The law, originally used to bring down crime families, is used against hackers who may have never met, don't know each other's real names and often only interact in online forums.
Prosecutors say the aggressive strategy is a measure of the threat posed by hackers and thieves, who use online black markets and other virtual networks to trade stolen credit cards and fake IDs. “The new face of organized crime—and particularly international organized crime—is largely cyber-based,” said James Trusty, head of the Justice Department's organized-crime and gang section. “The groups are emerging as very hierarchical, very secure and very profitable criminal enterprises.” Another mob-world tactic–infiltration–came in handy in the first conviction of a member of Carder.su, which was shut down in 2012. To catch David Camez, 22, who was accused of buying counterfeit IDs, credit cards and gift cards on the site, a Secret Service agent took over the online persona of a cooperating witness.