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'Fiendish' Trojan pickpockets eBay users

It's new and improved. And it just nabbed $8,600

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Miscreants have unleashed a new strain of a sophisticated Trojan that targets eBay users by feeding them spoofed web pages containing fraudulent information about high-ticket purchases, The Register has learned. It has already contributed to an $8,600 loss by one eBay member.

The Trojan installs a scaled-down webserver on an infected machine that masquerades as eBay and several third-party destinations frequently used to sniff out fraudulent offerings, including Carfax.com, Autocheck.com and Escrow.com.

When a victim browses to one of these sites, the webserver creates a parallel universe of sorts, in which the victim sees counterfeit pages designed to counter fraud protection mechanisms offered by eBay and third-party sites.

"To think that somehow they got software on their system that managed to spoof all the validation sites - that's a shit-scary story," said Roger Thompson, a researcher at Exploit Prevention Labs who specializes in web-based attacks. "It's fiendishly clever."

The malware was found on the machine of one eBay Motors user who recently lost $8,650 after trying to buy a 2005 Jeep Liberty advertised for 10 days on the site. Customer representatives have refused to cover the theft because, they said, the transaction was made outside of eBay.

Shortly after making the offer, the victim received a notification in the My Messages section of her eBay account telling her she had won the auction. eBay has long cautioned users not to rely on notifications unless they appear in this official section.

The malware installed on the victim's machine caused her browser to display a counterfeit version of just such a message. Had she used a non-infected computer to access her account, no such message would have appeared.

"There's no reason to suspect it's fraud until it's too late," said the Ohio-based user, who agreed to tell her story on the condition her identity was not revealed. The Register was able to verify the scam by confirming details with eBay and by reviewing screenshots, emails and files pulled from her machine.

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