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Visa and MasterCard Take Fight To Scammers 140

Posted by timothy
from the follow-the-not-exactly-money dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In his latest story, Brian Krebs reports on a collaboration between brand holders and credit card companies to shut down payment processing for rogue online pharmacies, pirate software sellers and fake anti-virus scams. By conducting test purchases, they map out which banks are being used to accept payments for which scams. Writes Krebs, 'Following the money trail showed that a majority of the purchases were processed by just 12 banks in a handful of countries, including Azerbaijan, China, Georgia, Latvia, and Mauritius.' These results are then fed to Visa and Mastercard who typically shut down the merchant accounts 'within one month after a complaint was lodged.' If you can't accept payments, you can't make money — and without money you can't pay the spammers who advertise your product. This effort is apparently quite effective and has led to much concern by those running such sites."
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Visa and MasterCard Take Fight To Scammers

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  • I order some prescriptions on the internet from a pharmacy based in Vanatu, because it's tons cheaper from them even with health insurance. Are they cracking down on those sites?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Em Adespoton (792954)

      Depends... if they're selling to the US, it could possibly be shut down, as the drugs wouldn't be FDA-tested, and so puchasing/delivering to the US is just as illegal as Cocaine.

      If they're only selling to countries where their drugs are legal trade, then there shouldn't be a problem.

      • by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @05:49PM (#41717095) Journal

        If they are also selling brand name medicine that they purchased from those companies and not distributing generics under brand names. If you RTFA, you'd have learned that is what is getting them shut down: infringing on the brands of pharmaceuticals. Many are switching to just promoting them under the generic name to avoid being shut down. Companies also selling "OEM" copies of software are also getting shut down for selling pirated versions. Its more of a trademark thing than anything else.

        • by TapeCutter (624760) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @11:00PM (#41718971) Journal
          I watched a doco a while back about some people from doctors without borders and others who were talking about fake medicine, apparently it's quite a problem in Africa, they have fake generics as well as fake brands, and by fake I mean no active ingredient. Even fake saline solution for hospitals is a problem, it had became so troublesome for visiting surgeons on this documentary that they were bringing their own saline with them. As much as I resent a huge bureaucracy around medicine, all the alternatives I've seen are much worse.
    • by Goaway (82658) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @05:53PM (#41717135) Homepage

      How do you even know this pharmacy is "legitimate"? Do you even know they are not just shipping you placebos?

      • by Guru80 (1579277) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @06:18PM (#41717329)

        Depending on the medication, the affects on you would let you know fairly soon. If it's for pain relief for instance and you aren't getting any, good bet you got scammed. However, if you are shipped placebos and they actually cure your pain, did you really lose? Rhetoric question, of course you did on value and taking unknown substances but if it really is just a water pill or whatever, you come out good if it actually cures your symptoms by not having to worry about the slight chance but possible harmful side-effects.

        That's my ramblings for the time being.

      • by Sulphur (1548251)

        How do you even know this pharmacy is "legitimate"? Do you even know they are not just shipping you placebos?

        The pharmacopeia is a recipe book for answering just that question IIRC. In other words your drugist can tell.

        • by kmoser (1469707)
          If the placebos work, why would he care?
          • by Sulphur (1548251)

            If the placebos work, why would he care?

            Its if they don't work. Suppose the problem is asymptomatic but dangerous. If he wastes time with ineffective drugs until the problem becomes worse and not curable, then the placebo has harmed him.

      • by mentus (775129)
        They might even be shipping pills with the active principle, but in the wrong quantities. I attended a presentation from Brazilian Federal Police on drugs counterfeit and from their experience you can get anything from a placebo to something that is so strong that might have massive side effects. Viagra/cialis and similar drugs are among the ones that are counterfeited the most (the person will hardly complain or make a fuss about it). In one case of Cialis counterfeit the active principle was in a quantit
  • About time! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tgeller (10260) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @04:52PM (#41716725) Homepage
    This is wonderful, and exactly what should be happening. I have to ask why they didn't start doing this 20 years ago, though....
    • by houghi (78078)

      Another thing that should be done s to introduce the US to the 21st century and use the chip reader like the rest of the world.

      Sure, that won't be 100% proof, but it is a LOT better then without it.

      People will complain that it will be expensive, yet everybody in the rest of the world was somehow able to pay for it.

      • Once again, a misleading title.

        Visa and Mastercard are not leading this fight. They are not being pro-active about this at all.

        If you RTFA, you find out that they will stop payments after people complain about possibly fraudulent payments/transactions.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        While I agree that it would be nice for the US to use chips like much of the rest of the world, there's a few concerns:

        1. Transactions involving chips are relatively slow. When I'm in the US with my US credit card, swipe transactions take maybe 5 seconds (unless it's on one of the ancient dial-up terminals, but that's rare). When I'm in Switzerland with my Swiss chip-and-PIN card, it can take upwards of 30 seconds to process.

        2. Liability shifts to the user. With swipe cards in the US, the liability for frau

        • I'm not sure how internet or phone transactions could be better secured, though.

          1) Merchant site generates a payment code (possibly in URL format)
          2) Customer enters payment code on bank's website (by using their bookmark, NOT a link on the merchant's site)
          3) Merchant receives payment and ships product
          4) ???
          5) Profit!

      • As someone who has been forced to use the chip-and-pin system for some years (because I live in the UK) I can tell you that it's not that much more secure. The intrepid researchers in the Computer Science Dept at Cambridge have shown that there are many ways in which it can be compromised. The reason our banks are so keen on chip-and-pin is that if your card is misused you, the customer, have to foot the bill. When we had to sign credit card slips and someone forged your signature it was the bank (or oth
    • +10000000

      I came hre to say exactly the same thing. Why wasn't the obvious answer, that even a teenager could imagine in under a minute, carried out sooner??

      Maybe capitalism doesn't move so fast on issues where those on the receiving and transacting sides of the problem are afloat and only the consumer gets screwed. What happened to that consumer protection agency idea??? Bad for business? No. Bad for bad business, good for good business and people.

  • Follow the money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan East (318230) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @04:57PM (#41716763) Homepage Journal

    Wow, they finally discovered the concept of "follow the money".

    • by Anne Thwacks (531696) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @05:04PM (#41716827)
      And only 10 years after I first suggested the goverment should order them to do it!
      • by JustOK (667959) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @05:05PM (#41716833) Journal

        Better be careful. Once the scammer figure out you were behind this...

      • The trick is to gather a bunch of bureaucrats, pay them well, and ship them off to a central location where they can think of ways of pushing paperwork and legal requirements to businesses.

        To avoid excessive paperwork, just get rid of the old requirements and use the ones developed by said group of bureaucrats.

        Companies now have to deal with lots of regulation, which mostly protects consumers, and it becomes cheaper to treat your customers well than to ignore the problems.

        EU in a nutshell.

      • by Hentes (2461350)

        The problem with following the money is that it can be easily misled. If someone wants to hurt an organisation, they only have to send out a couple of scams with their account number on it and the vigilant banks will shut it down. Punishment should be a monopoly of the legal system.

    • by fermion (181285)
      Presumably this was not done prior to know because the profits from these sales to the cc companies far exceeded the costs of the charge backs, services customer complaints, and the values of the lost good will.
  • I suppose it's good (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rsilvergun (571051) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @04:57PM (#41716771)
    that we're shutting down scams and such, but it's interesting to think about some of the side effects of all this computing horse power and the general increase in productivity it entails. Basically, these are criminals living on the fringes, and with modern statistical analysis getting so easy (because you can crunch massive amounts of data on the cheap) we're going to start really squeezing those people. There are millions and millions of people in this class. Some are criminals (like these) and some are honest people who used to get by on waste product and over production. If you live in the States and are over 30 you probably remember bags of Halloween candy for 50 cents. You don't find them any more because they've crunched the numbers and figured out exactly how much candy to order so they don't come up short. Best you'll see if 50% off and a weak selection.

    It's like that everywhere in society. It's going to be interesting (and scary) to see what happens as we squeeze these people more and more. Most countries are moving towards Austerity and 19th century style 'Invisible Hand' economics so we're not just going to hand them food. Roving bands of bandits, anyone?
    • by rockout (1039072) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @05:06PM (#41716845)
      If the worse example you can think of is that we can no longer find bags of Halloween candy for 50 cents, I'm not sure that the side effects of increased computing power/productivity are a bad thing for society.
      • That was just to illustrate the point. A better example would be the large increase in prices across the board at Walmart. In America we were sold on the idea that low prices would allow us to live well despite stagnant wages. Bargains, sales and close outs are a big part of that. Take a 3lb bag of apples. On sale I might pay $0.99 cents USD for it. Off Sale it might be $9.00. As the sales and discounts get fewer and farther between the people living on the edge get squeezed more and more. There's only so m
        • by rockout (1039072)

          We actually agree on this point - the upper half has definitely benefited much more from increased computing power and not just in the way you illustrated, although I'm with you that that's a significant part of it. Unfortunately we start to venture into political territory when we discuss "how do you fix this?" - obviously you can't take away the computing power, and stifling further advances would be counter-productive. A more progressive tax structure would seem to provide at least part of the answer b

          • those cheap calories keep hunger pains in check. As a human you still need around 2000+ calories a day. If all you can afford is junk your body knows it. One of the reasons for obesity that people like to ignore is that if you're constantly eating low, low quality food your body keeps sending you hunger signals. That's because you're not getting the nutrients you need, your body knows it, and it's telling you to get out there and find it.

            As for 'how do we fix it'?. I can't think of any way that doesn't i
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by fustakrakich (1673220)

      Roving bands of bandits, anyone?

      Countered by FEMA (Blackwater) agents rounding them up, along with a 'statistically insignificant' number of innocents, and sending the survivors off to Gitmo.. which prompts the question, Which is preferable?

      • Naw... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by rsilvergun (571051) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @05:45PM (#41717061)
        they won't bother rounding them up unless their inconveniencing the people that matter ($250k+/yr income last I checked). And strangely the real poor keep their misery to themselves anywhere I've ever lived. Right now I'm living in a ridiculously expensive part of town because I happened to have landed a nice job, but You can drive 10 miles from my apartment and find terrifying slums. The rich like to keep poor people close by to serve them, after all. But the funny thing is the poor don't spill out. That's mostly our drug policy. If you're poor you or someone you know is probably taking illegal drugs to cope with the stress of poverty, and the harsh (selectively enforced) drug laws let us keep the poor in their place. You'll notice the big push is for medical marijuana, not to legalize it. That's because it lets the rich have their weed and keep using the laws to oppress. We did it with the Chinese and opium.

        Anyway, you'll still have roving bands of bandits unless you're in the 10%.
        • Re:Naw... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by microbox (704317) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @09:03PM (#41718337)

          We did it with the Chinese and opium.

          In the 19thC, the chinese banned opium, and also banned trade with the west. But there was a black market for opium in china, so the british just shipped it from india as a method to get access to chinese goods.

          It never would have happened if but for two things: europeans thought that trade is their *right* (with china or elsewhere), and the chinese believed themselves to be utterly superior in all things to the barbarians, and could therefore ignore and dictate terms.

          Chinese now refer to this period as the "century of humiliation", and there was much legitimate humiliation. In the end, the europeans won because they had ironclads and modern armies. Might made right. If the chinese had acknowledged that they had come up against barbarians that they couldn't control, then there would have been no trade embargo, and no century of humiliation. After-all, trade was all the european powers were after fundamentally. (Exception: Russa wanted territory, and got a lot of it.)

        • It's also worth mentioning that the rich just get thier drugs by making appointments. If they are paying $500 cash to their psychiatrist or neurologist for thier "ADHD" or "Migraines", you can bet that they will walk away with prescriptions for amphetimines (adderal), or narcotics (morphine, oxycontin, etc). It just happens to be "legal" for the rich if they pay someone to tell them that they need to take it.

          If you're poor and do some meth or heroin for basically the same reasons, you're going to jail.

          Big

    • Inflation might have had some effect on the pricing of halloween candy as well...

      • by rsilvergun (571051) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @05:47PM (#41717077)
        I'm not talking about the base line costs, but the % discount. Instead of being 80 - 90% it tops out at 50%. That's a tighter supply chain at work, and it's cheap computing power and communications that have made that possible. That, plus cheap data storage that lets you track everything and data mine it, so when a manager of a Walmart orders 100 extra bags of candy you know he did it and you can ding him on his performance review for it...
    • by Baloroth (2370816)

      If you live in the States and are over 30 you probably remember bags of Halloween candy for 50 cents. You don't find them any more because they've crunched the numbers and figured out exactly how much candy to order so they don't come up short. Best you'll see if 50% off and a weak selection.

      The target near my house routinely gets snapped up at around 50-75% off, but that's just normal market forces at work. 50 cent bags of candy? Yep, all the time, if you can beat everyone else to them.

      • by Baloroth (2370816)

        And this is what preview is for. I meant to say "The Target near my house routinely has post-holiday stuff at up to 90% off. Granted, the good stuff routinely..." Click-drag selection must have deleted an extra line without me noticing. Ah well.

    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @05:52PM (#41717123)

      Everything you said I could make an argument against, but I won't. Even if it's all true, it's not really relevant. There was a 'scam' a few years ago where a bunch of people got together and opened a business selling sex toys online. But after ordering them, you'd receive a check for the amount of the order and a note saying it wasn't actually legal to sell sex toys in the jurisdiction they were based out of. The catch was the check was from a very obscene-sounding place, like "Anal lover's paradise empornium" or somesuch. As a result, many people didn't cash those checks, and they kept the money. It turned out to make them a lot of money, and it was completely legal (at the time anyway). While this is certainly unethical behavior, it wasn't fraud. It's the same thing on eBay where people sell laptops but if you read the description they're not selling a powerbook, but a powerbook binder. You'd plop down $200 for a used laptop and get a 3 ring binder with the word "Powerbook" in the sleeve.

      It's unethical, I agree, but not illegal, it's not fraudulent. In cases like these, the law needs to be changed. Because ultimately, it's the government's responsibility to protect people from fraud and unethical and harmful behavior, not individuals or businesses. To say otherwise is to advocate vigilantism and a departure from the rule of law. The proper party to correct these problems is the government, and only the government. Whether the instrument of criminal conduct is an algorithm or a gun, doesn't matter as far as a conviction is concerned. I don't want to get too far into criminal law here, but the term for an action that indirectly results in harm is called the proximate cause. For example, I'm having an argument with you and I throw a wine bottle at your head, you slip trying to get out of the way, fall on something sharp, and die. While it's true my actions (throwing of the wine bottle) didn't cause your death, there was intent to cause injury, and the wine bottle could have caused a fatal injury, so I'd still be guilty of murder, even though I wasn't the direct cause of your death.

      My point is the law itself can be simple and doesn't have to account for all possibilities, in order to apply and be effective. In the case of frauds and scams, there's no need for private individuals and corporations to take action as long as the government can (and does). If, for whatever reason, it does not, then the appeal to action must be directed to the authorities, and no other person or organization. But say a scammer has found a way to legally cause financial harm... in that case, the government needs to pass a law to address that issue, and from that point forward, prosecute anyone caught doing it. But there can be no ex pos facto laws -- that is, we can't declare something that was legal yesterday illegal today, then prosecute someone for an action under the new law.

      You can't argue for vigilantism in a society under the rule of law -- and any society not under the rule of law is likely very primitive and with limited economic and social development. They have bigger problems than a petty crook. Civilized society doesn't tolerate people taking the law into their own hands, regardless of how good their intentions may be. Invariably, the vigilante makes a mistake; Accepts evidence that shouldn't be, passes a judgement too harsh, or is biased. To advocate justice means advocating all the principles of it, not just the ones that are convenient.

      • just pointing out that these people aren't going to roll over and die just because their livelihood is taken away, and that we don't really have an alternative for them. So when you've got a whole bunch of criminals that have nothing to lose and no hope you're likely to see large scale violence, and unless you can afford a walled community and private security you're going to suffer for it. Maybe you can afford those things and you're not concerned, but I'm a little worried....

        To address your comment dir
        • just pointing out that these people aren't going to roll over and die just because their livelihood is taken away, and that we don't really have an alternative for them.

          Arrest. Trial. Conviction. Jail time.

          Maybe you can afford those things and you're not concerned, but I'm a little worried....

          I can't, and I'm not concerned. They'd better be well-armed.

          • there are large sections where the police don't go. Also, my brother's apartment was robbed in 2000 and they took everything. They caught the guy, and let him go. As for how well armed they are, that's not what's at issue. What matters is a) how desperate and b) how many. I don't want to live in the sorta place were suicide bombs are a part of everyday life, and they gun strapped to your leg won't keep your parts together when one goes off next to you and yours...
            • I don't want to live in the sorta place were suicide bombs are a part of everyday life, and they gun strapped to your leg won't keep your parts together when one goes off next to you and yours...

              Allow vigilante justice, and you'll become someone else's political statement. You cannot combat evil with evil. Detroit is lost, I'll give you that. But if you want it back, the solution is to put it front and center. Embarass the government. Contact diplomats and embassies everywhere and show them pictures. Tell the story. Demand humanitarian aid because your government is too proud, too pathetic, too enamored with its own past to face its present problems. MAKE THE WHOLE WORLD LOOK, AND SAY "YOU SHOULD B

  • Bad. Wrong. Evil. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @05:20PM (#41716917)

    I'm sure everyone will yell "hip hip, horray!" to this, but it's bad for reasons that aren't obvious. When you have a financial network which has more or less a monopoly on electronic transactions making decisions about who can and cannot make transactions based on arbitrary criterion, the door is opened wide for abuse. Look at Wikileaks: They weren't "scammers", but Visa and Mastercard shut them down. PayPal has a long string of broken businesses and bankrupt individuals under its belt for indefinately seizing/freezing accounts based on suspicions. I'm not going to make a slippery-slope argument here, because it can only slope so far before it cuts into profit margins and such so much a competitor steps in to fill the void -- but we are tolerating a certain level of misuse of power whenever this is allowed.

    It's like the internet: Most everyone on slashdot believes in network neutrality, that is, service providers shouldn't prioritize or limit traffic based on content. The same arguments apply towards financial providers, but look around on this thread: Everyone is cheering.

    Actually, I lied. I will use a slippery slope argument... amply supported by history. People would cheer censorship of images of pedophilia. Or rape, etc. And as the human history has long shown -- once a service provider also steps into a gate keeper role, they will find more reasons. Soon, it has policies about racism, sexism, communism... and the list grows ever longer. Just like, say, strict liability in criminal cases... once upon a time, it was only used to prosecute in cases where intent simply couldn't be proved easily (if at all), but gradually, over time... it expanded and corrupted itself, so now people face stiffer sentences and fines for downloading music than manslaughter.

    Anytime a service provider takes on the gate keeper role, even with the most noble of intentions, eventually it perverts and corrupts... it wears away until the decisions become arbitrary, and the rules cease to matter. Today, it's scammers... tomorrow, someone else will be added to the list. And then another. And another.

    But something has to be done! the audience cries. Yes, I agree. Fraud is a crime in most jurisdictions worldwide. The rule of law means the government, not the service provider, says who is punished and how. This is a step backwards -- a step into vigilantism and away from civilization. It is of the most noble intentions, but it is still uncivilized. The proper authority is the government(s). Trials, judges, lawyers, a presentation of evidence, impartiality -- these things matter. Yes, even on the internet. Yes, even when it's scammers. Especially when it's scammers.

    To advocate for the rule of law and justice, for civil rights, often requires we defend the worst of humanity. I step in here to defend the scammers, whom are of exceedingly low opinion on this forum, to protect everyone else. Stop it here, now. Do not support this action -- while in this one instance it may be the instrument of good, it is the traditional method by which free society is destroyed. Demand accountability, but demand it of the proper authorities, not the private individuals and corporations.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Good points but way too much text and drama, back to training...

    • by dmbasso (1052166)

      My thoughts exactly. Too bad I'm out of mod points.

    • No, Wrong. Re read article. The payment networks are following Laws, rather than acting upon their own accord. If there were 5,000 payment networks, each one would have to comply in a simular fashion. If you don't like the laws, blame the lawmakers and citizens that voted for them.

      • by girlintraining (1395911) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @06:06PM (#41717237)

        No, Wrong. Re read article. The payment networks are following Laws, rather than acting upon their own accord. If there were 5,000 payment networks, each one would have to comply in a simular fashion. If you don't like the laws, blame the lawmakers and citizens that voted for them.

        I read the article. It details an internal process used by Visa and Mastercard to file and resolve complaints. Nowhere in the article does it detail the involvement of law enforcement. It's a policy, not a law. Direct quote: "The credit card associations have a standard process for accepting complaints about such transactions, in which they warn the online merchantâ(TM)s bank (including a notice of potential fines for noncompliance). After a complaint about such activity, the merchantâ(TM)s bank conducts its investigation, and may choose to contest the issue if they believe it is in error. But if the bank decides not to challenge the complaint, then they will need to take action to prevent future such transactions, or else face an escalating series of fines from the card associations." In fact, even the company spokesperson admitted it's an extra-judicial process: "âoeIt doesnâ(TM)t require a judge, a law-enforcement officer or even much in the way of sophisticated security capabilities. If you can purchase a product, then thereâ(TM)s a record of it and that record points back to the merchant account getting the money,' Savage said."

        So I stand by what I said: This is a private corporation attempting to perform the duties and responsibilities that should be handled by law enforcement. It's vigilantism. Yes, it's wrapped in corporate policy, altruism, and wears a suit and tie. But Visa and Mastercard are still engaging in vigilante justice.

        • No, they are complying with the laws of the countries the merchants accept buisness from. If a product is illiegal to sell in country A, they will not allow there payment systems to be used to break the law. If you don't like it change the law.

          • No, they are complying with the laws of the countries the merchants accept buisness from. If a product is illiegal to sell in country A, they will not allow there payment systems to be used to break the law. If you don't like it change the law.

            If that's true, then show me the part in the article where it says "... and then they turn over the evidence to the authorities for prosecution."

        • In fact, even the company spokesperson admitted it's an extra-judicial process: "âoeIt doesnâ(TM)t require a judge, a law-enforcement officer or even much in the way of sophisticated security capabilities. If you can purchase a product, then thereâ(TM)s a record of it and that record points back to the merchant account getting the money,' Savage said."

          So... you might want to read more closely. As the aforementioned Savage, I can assure you that I am not a company spokesperson, but rather an academic :-) Brian's article is based on a study we completed looking at how this particular intervention is taking place.

          You are correct that none of this is being done through law enforcement. The relevant mechanism is that the card association contracts with acquiring banks stipulate that their boarded merchants may not sell goods that are illegal in their cou

    • by robot5x (1035276)
      tl;dr - allowing private service providers to make such potentially huge decisions about who can send/receive/make money is dangerous.

      I agree, acutually, but:

      1. the trend nowadays is for 'less' government; western governments are following the oxymoronic principle of 'contractionary stimulus' in order to push a neo-liberal agenda and further shrink government and deregulate.

      2. this is a marketing stroke of genius by Visa/Mastercard. They come out looking great for defending us all against these naug
    • by Anonymous Coward

      False.

      These companies lose money because of these scams. Remember that Zero Liability clause in your credit card contract?? And, if the person being scammed was using a debit card, then the bank holding the account loses the money. This is not arbitrary, as you suggest. This is a company(s) protecting their bottom line, and the bottom line of their business partners.

      Slippery, Smishppery... the line is clearly drawn in this case: "you cause us to make less of a profit, we'll cut you off."

      • by soundguy (415780)

        False.

        These companies lose money because of these scams. Remember that Zero Liability clause in your credit card contract?? And, if the person being scammed was using a debit card, then the bank holding the account loses the money. This is not arbitrary, as you suggest. This is a company(s) protecting their bottom line, and the bottom line of their business partners.

        Slippery, Smishppery... the line is clearly drawn in this case: "you cause us to make less of a profit, we'll cut you off."

        Incorrect. Banks NEVER lose money on fraudulent transactions. EVER. All fraud is passed back to the merchant who accepted the card.

    • by shentino (1139071)

      There's no effective difference between the government and business due to political corruption.

      Nothing is going to go for the greater good so long as the government is a corporate lapdog.

      • There's no effective difference between the government and business due to political corruption. Nothing is going to go for the greater good so long as the government is a corporate lapdog.

        That may be true, but it's still irrelevant. We can't combat corruption by advocating more corruption. There's only one way to combat corruption: Education and demands for accountability. It's the government's job to correct injustice, and if injustice exists within the government then that is where the change must start. No matter how corrupt the government, vigilantism is worse. Even corrupted, the problem is still in one place. Hand authority over to the mob, and the problem is now everywhere, spreading

        • by shentino (1139071)

          You misunderstood me so bad on what my point was that I'm not even going to dignify your response with a comment beyond this one.

          • You misunderstood me so bad on what my point was that I'm not even going to dignify your response with a comment beyond this one.

            Translation: "I'm out of one-liners spoon-fed to me by demotivational posters and google image search."

        • It's the government's job to correct injustice, and if injustice exists within the government then that is where the change must start. No matter how corrupt the government, vigilantism is worse.

          No, it's everyone's job to fight injustice. It's the government's job to enforce the law.

          You are conflating justice and law in the same way that some people cry "censorship" when a web site deletes their post because the mods don't like it. It's only censorship when the government prevents you from communicating your message. When a private entity doesn't let you use their resources to communicate, it's just them conducting business as they see fit, which they have a right to do.

          It's not Visa's job, nor the

      • by shentino (1139071)

        Before anyone else makes a snarky reply.

        My suggestion is to get business out of government so that our voices as the voting public can be heard.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Much the same reasoning is why child porn shouldn't be outlawed: The resulting censorship hides the abuses in making the awful stuff. This is already superfluous because the pictures are by themselves awful enough that unless you're into that stuff, you don't want to look at it, period. And we do want to stop the abuses. Yet what we do hides them instead. And then opens the door to more censorship, like in the name of terrorism or copyright or what have you. Including political dissent. Oops.

      Too busy "think

    • by Branka96 (628759)
      So, if a company commits fraud (take peoples money, don't deliver products), Visa and Mastercard are not allowed to cut them off before a court has delivered judgement? Even with thousands of complains? Of course with most of these companies you would have to have multiple judgements for different countries.
    • I'm sure everyone will yell "hip hip, horray!" to this, but it's bad for reasons that aren't obvious. When you have a financial network which has more or less a monopoly on electronic transactions making decisions about who can and cannot make transactions based on arbitrary criterion, the door is opened wide for abuse.

      Your argument goes wrong for a variety of reasons. First, it's based on an incorrect premise. Visa and Mastercard don't have a "more or less monopoly" on electronic transactions. You mention Paypal, which is an alternative, and there are a number of other ways to pay online, like Amex, Dwolla, Bitcoin, PayByCash, Noca, WorldPay, etc. Visa and Mastercard may currently have the bulk of transactions, but I suspect that would change pretty fast if they started cutting off payment access for political speech or

  • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @05:22PM (#41716929) Journal

    So, when will they cut off the IMF, World Bank, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and the Federal Reserve, and all the European Banks that robbed their respective countries?

    • So, when will they cut off the IMF, World Bank, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and the Federal Reserve, and all the European Banks that robbed their respective countries?

      Cut up your credit cards, secrete your cash at home and that will dampen their extortion...

      • That would be nice, but they still intentionally destroy the value of the money through inflation. If they don't have my money, they just print more and invest in the derivative markets. I consider this highly unethical and illegal, but I've been voted down. They are just as criminal as the punk robbing a 7-Eleven. We watch them do it in broad daylight, and do nothing, or worse, elect them into office.

  • by Andy Prough (2730467) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @05:50PM (#41717111)
    So - the scammers are in business for 4-6 months on average before they come up on someone's radar for investigation. The investigation and following the money trail takes at least a month - maybe two. File a complaint, and voila - a month later, Visa and MC are shuttting down the scammer's merchant account.

    Well - guess what? Most fraudsters shut down their operations and start a new one every 6 months on average. So - if it takes you 6-9 months to find and shut down their merchant account, you haven't accomplished anything really. They already made all the money they were planning to, and have already set up their next site and account. And, since there is almost zero capital investment required to set up a bogus payment website, these guys are making almost 100% pure profit for the time period that they had originally intended to. Also, they are re-sellling all the credit cards they process, and making money on the back-end.
    • Well - guess what? Most fraudsters shut down their operations and start a new one every 6 months on average. So - if it takes you 6-9 months to find and shut down their merchant account, you haven't accomplished anything really. They already made all the money they were planning to, and have already set up their next site and account.

      Which is why these investigations should be handled by law enforcement, not corporations. Law enforcement has the resources to track down the people responsible, seize the money, and take away their ability to repeatedly cause harm. While everyone says "Yay! The corporation is doing something," they're failing to realize that it doesn't accomplish anything in the long-term.

      That's why you let law enforcement handle fraud cases -- nothing says "You're done," like the inside of a jail cell.

    • Actually the economics here are not favorable to the scammer. For the class of goods being discussed here, most of the affiliate programs are fairly long lived (necessary precisely because they rely on independent contractors paid on commission to advertise their wares) and, as they advertise broadly, their storefronts are well known. Its simply not difficult to keep up with the top programs in any niche. It does indeed seem to take 2-4 weeks between the generation of a complaint and the merchant account

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Solution, meet thy problem:

    $50k reward for best way to stop robocalls [slashdot.org]

    CAPTCHA: screwed

  • by shentino (1139071)

    Credit card companies are IN on this.

    Remember that credit cards earn money by charging transaction fees against merchants?

    All money funneled to a scammer through a credit card, credit card issuers are getting a cut of it.

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      until the person scammed makes the complaint and the card company has to refund the losses, sure they make good on the charges to the merchant and its this that allows them to make the payouts but its still a loss to them.

      Better for them to stop the scammers, make people feel safer about buying things with the cards, and rake in the profits for those little fees they charge.

  • Well. Actually I doubt that. ONE FRELLING MONTH.
    Given the fact that the average spam / scam site relocates to a new URL in no time, how hard can it be to change bank accounts every two weeks?

  • Judge and jury? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mstrcat (517519) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @06:29PM (#41717407)
    I'm not at all comfortable with credit card companies making unilateral and largely black-box decisions like this. While it's true that having a Visa account is not a right, I'm expect them to provide services without making such decisions for me. I feel as if I have more to worry from Visa than I have from the people they claim are selling shady goods.
    • They do it all the time. This is not a new thing, if they have reason to suspect you, they will shut down your merchant account. They've been aggressive on this since at least the 90s. The only thing new here is that some academics decided to track down the money trail to the spammers.

      Here's a quote on the topic from the article:

      Contracts between the banks and Visa and MasterCard stipulate that merchants are prohibiting from selling goods and services that are illegal in the country into which those goods or services are being sold.

    • Visa and Mastercard participate in or at very least facilitate these transactions. You are uncomfortable with someone choosing not to participate in criminal activity? They should knowingly facilitate fraud, allowing their networks to be used for criminal activity? No, I think the card associations and issuers are doing exactly the right thing in refusing to process fraudulent charges for counterfeight goods. Their motivation is threefold. Doing the right thing, of course, and branding, but mainly charg
      • by soundguy (415780)
        Visa and the issuing banks are NEVER "on the hook". All fraudulent charges are passed back to the merchant.
      • by dkf (304284)

        You may know Visa and Mastercard, through their issuers, guarantee to protect their customers from most types of fraud. If you pay by Visa and are shipped a counterfeight product, you can fill out a form and get your money back. I suspect most would agree that's good for consumers. It means, however, that Visa is ultimately on the hook for the money.

        Whether or not it is Visa (or MC) that are on the hook, or the participating bank (things get really complicated under the covers), it is a critical part of the credit card system that you can do these things, as they mean that you can trust the system itself much more. While hardly perfect, it does mean that you can stand a reasonable chance to get the goods or service as described; fraudsters and crappy genuine vendors have a much harder time of it than if it was done otherwise, and that encourages people

  • ... what are rogue online pharmacies, pirate software sellers and fake anti-virus scams? Who files the complaints and what are they based on?

    I can see opportunities for abuse here. Your competitor offers a better product. You file a complaint that they are a 'pirate' and the credit card companies shut them down.

    • It's based largely on "chargeback ratio". If 10% of the people who pay the company take the time to fill out fraud reports, it's probably a fraud. Secondly, the comoany can challenge the complaints. Most commonly, the complaint is "I paid, but I never recieved anything." The company can reply with a UPS tracking number. Another common complaint is "I didn't buy anything from the company, but they charged my card." That's why you sign the reciept, so the company can prove you authorized it. After bei
  • Tell the big pharmas they can make more money by eliminating this *cough* competition.
    Let them go after the spammers.
    Better still. Let the pharmas outsource that to the terrorists of music industry.
    They REALLY know how to deal with the internet.
    Or at least how to demolish it.
    And spam is a part of the internet I would LOVE to see demolished.

  • ACTA started out as a legitimate anti-counterfeit-goods agreement, that the MAFIAA hijacked. The stink of the MAFIAA corruption was enough to get ACTA rejected in its entirety. If Big Pharma can do without ACTA, that's one less lobby group pushing for its re-incarnation.

  • In my experience more rip-offs, theft, lies and financial ruin are caused by payment processors, major banks, VISA, MasterCard, CitiBank and others of that ilk/mode/genre.

    Malware on a Windows machine costs an hour to remove and $25.00 for Malwarebytes.

    Tell me these assholes in the first paragraph haven't stolen more than $100.00 from you!

    There's just no perspective anymore

  • Don't shut down the merchant account, suspend the banks. Make an example out of them and other banks might think twice about facilitating scammers.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Now that Visa's V.me is generally available in the US and Canada how about Visa/MasterCard closing the clunky PayPal's merchant account with the infamous Well Fargo Bank ...

    Now that would curtail the activities of one of the great scammers, eBay's PreyPal ...

    And, the reality of the clunky PayPal, et al ...
    http://bit.ly/NFqjmp

    eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

  • that's why real criminals use bitcoin.

  • In which case they keep it 'under investigation' until the sun burns out or you cancel your account, whichever comes first.

  • In Colorado, the medical marijuana shops do not accept credit cards.Visa and MasterCard say since it is still illegal, they will not process payments (mainly because they might lose some of the money if the Feds crack down). They know where the money is going at all times.

    And as long as the cost of the fraud is less than the cost of combating it, they will fight for the profit.

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