Cybercriminals launder money using in-game currencies

Executive Summary
Money laundering is a critical step in the cyber crime process which is experiencing some changes as hackers and their criminal colleagues continually alter and optimize payment mechanisms. Conducting quantitative research on underground laundering activity poses an inherent challenge: Bad guys and their banks don’t share information on criminal pursuits. However, by analyzing forums, we have identified two growth areas in money laundering:
  1. Online gaming: — Online role playing games provide an easy way for criminals to launder money. This frequently involves the opening of numerous different accounts on various online games to move money.
  2. Micro laundering: — Cyber criminals are increasingly looking at micro laundering via sites like PayPal or, interestingly, using job advertising sites, to avoid detection. Moreover, as online and mobile micro-payment are interconnected with traditional payment services, funds can now be moved to or from a variety of payment methods, increasing the difficulty to apprehend money launderers. Micro laundering makes it possible to launder a large amount of money in small amounts through  thousands of electronic transactions. One growing scenario: using virtual credit cards as an alternative to prepaid mobile cards; they could be funded with a scammed bank account – with instant transaction – and used as a foundation of a PayPal account that would be laundered through a micro – laundering scheme.

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