Feeds

Credit card fraud fears cloud Operation Ore

Double jeopardy for fraud victims?

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Many of the child abuse download suspects snared in Operation Ore may have been innocent victims of credit card fraud, according to a BBC investigation.

Operation Ore, the UK's biggest ever child pornography investigation, involved the prosecution of 2,000 suspects among 7,000 Brits whose credit cards were used to pay for access to images of child abuse via a US-based portal run by Landslide Inc. Nearly half a million people worldwide paid to access the depraved material.

Lawyers and computer security experts quizzed by BBC Radio 4's The Investigation suspect that many of those arrested may have been victims of credit card fraud. The police admit the possibility that third parties used fraudulently obtained credit card details to pay for child porn, but reject the suggestion that any of those prosecuted fall into this category.

US authorities raiding Landslide found a list of credit card purchases on its servers. They passed over the details of UK suspects to British police, prompting the launch of Operation Ore in May 2002. Around 2,300 people on the list were convicted of child porn offences, while another 2,000 faced the stress of investigations that sometimes dragged on for months before charges were subsequently dropped, the BBC reports.

Experts quizzed by Channel 4 argue that the police failed to carry out proper checks designed to determine whether the suspects might have been victims of fraud.

"The police just didn't look for and didn't understand the evidence of wholesale card fraud," Ross Anderson, professor of security engineering at Cambridge University told the BBC. "And as a result, hundreds of people, possibly in the low thousands of people, have been put through a terrible mill with threats of prosecution for child pornography."

Simon Bunce, who was arrested after his name was found on the Landslide database, faced a six month investigation before charges were dropped. Nothing was found on his computers. "I investigated diligently myself and I established I was a victim of credit card fraud and identity theft," he said.

Police defend the record of Operation Ore. Jim Gamble, former head of the National Crime Squad which spearheaded the investigation, said 90 per cent of arrested suspects in the investigation pleaded guilty when confronted by the evidence against them. "That's people who - the allegation has been levelled against them, the evidence has been collected and they, at court or through accepting an adult caution, which 600-plus of them did, have said I am guilty of this offence," he told the BBC. "That's not about credit card fraud."

BBC Radio 4's The Investigation airs at 8pm on Thursday, 10 May. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Ice cream headache as black hat hacks sack Dairy Queen
I scream, you scream, we all scream 'DATA BREACH'!
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
Three quarters of South Korea popped in online gaming raids
Records used to plunder game items, sold off to low lifes
Oz fed police in PDF redaction SNAFU
Give us your metadata, we'll publish your data
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.