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Feds finger China in wire fraud

Where phishing victims’ money goes

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

The FBI has issued an alert warning that money obtained by phishing is being transferred to trade companies in China.

The bureau says money obtained from compromised business computers is being wired to Chinese companies located near the Russian border. The transfers are initiated after criminals compromise computers (typically with phishing attacks), gaining access to businesses’ banking credentials.

While various attacks are used, the notice identifies ZueS, Backdoor.bot and Spybot as the fraudsters’ favorite malware.

Intermediary accounts in New York are typically used as staging points for the final transfer.

A large number of companies are apparently registered for the purpose of the fraudulent transfers, rather than having an easier-to-identify single recipient. The FBI says the names of various port cities in the Heilongjiang province occur in the names of companies to which the transfers are made – including Raohe, Fuyuan, Jixi City, Xunke, Tongjiang, and Dongning. The names also include variations on “economic and trade”, “trade”, and “LTD”.

The “actors”, as the FBI calls them, generally try to transfer large amounts – between US$900,000 and US$1 million – but are “more successful in receiving the funds when the unauthorized wire transfers were under US$500,000”. ®

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