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    Computerworld: Three years undercover with the identity thieves

    Computerworld has an interesting story about an FBI agent’s undercover work to bust identity thieves:

    Supervisory Special Agent J. Keith Mularski had gone deeper into the world of online computer fraud than any FBI agent before. Working with police agencies in Germany, the U.K., Turkey and other countries, he spearheaded a remarkable investigation that netted 59 arrests and prevented an estimated US$70 million in bank fraud before the FBI pulled the plug on Operation DarkMarket on Oct. 4, 2008. […]

    Mularski’s life as an undercover spammer began around July of 2005, when he created his handle Master Splynter in a tribute to the cartoon rat who plays sensei to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. His unit ran a project called Slam-Spam, and Mularski, a self-confessed computer nerd, said he had picked up a lot of spamming tricks before he started the operation. “I could talk shop,” he said. […]

    “The thing is with these guys, you can’t necessarily target them and just approach them out of the blue,” he said. “So by being out there and not really caring about things — I played a lot of things off nonchalant — I was able to gain their trust.” […]

    By September 2006, Mularski had become a moderator on DarkMarket. Not as powerful as an administrator, he was still a trusted manager, one step above the reviewers who assessed the quality of products being sold on the site. […]

    Mularski was now a made man. As administrator to the site he could track people who logged in and, most importantly, read everything the cyberthieves were saying to each other. Working with his international law enforcement contacts, Mularski compiled evidence and, one by one, his team tracked down the crooks who ran DarkMarket.

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