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ID theft scam hunt goes global

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UK police are working with Interpol in a bid to track down the perpetrators of a malware-powered ID theft scam that has claimed thousands of victims worldwide.

As previously reported, a computer seized in the US contained personal data - including names, addresses, credit card information, and transaction records - from around 2,300 UK punters. Closer examination has revealed the details of at least 8,500 people in 60 countries were obtained through the scam.

The data was swiped using key-logging Trojan software, now identified as a variant of Haxdoor, according to the Metropolitan Police's Computer Crime Unit, which is investigating the case. Police are not explaining how the US computer came to be seized in the interests of protecting what's described as an ongoing investigation.

Haxdoor sends login details and other sensitive personal information to systems controlled by hackers. Variants of the Trojan used in the attack use a screen capture function in order to capture sensitive information. It's thought that many of the affected PCs became infected after victims of the attack (who'd failed to take adequate security precautions) were duped into following links in instant messenger conversations or spam emails that led to hacker-controlled websites hosting malware.

Login credentials associated with 600 financial companies and banks have been found on the US machine that's at the centre of the investigation, IDG reports. Analysis work is continuing on the data, contained in 130,000 files, forwarded by authorities to UK investigators. The data contains information including login details for ecommerce sites such as eBay, Amazon, and ISPs including BT and Pipex.

It's unclear how much, if indeed any, money has been stolen from online accounts as a result of the scam. UK police began by contacting suspected victims directly by email. They have gone on to get in touch with banks to alert them that particular account numbers have been compromised, so financial institutions have the information they need to contact customers directly.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police's Computer Crime Unit is working with Interpol to trace the hackers behind the scam. ®

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