Porn scam escapes police attention

The scam came to light when CCBill, a large US credit card clearing house with many customers in the adult entertainment industry, contacted Web hosting company 2Day.com to say someone from an IP address managed by 2Day appeared to be both passing off a Web site as that of one of CCBill's customers and using his site to harvest credit card details. The letter said CCBill had referred the matter to the FBI for investigation.

2Day.com managing director Peter Mott says he confronted the customer responsible -- who first denied then admitted the allegations -- and immediately cut off his service, which included hosting of several other sites.

The customer had a bogus site at the URL bizzarovideo.com, a misspelling of the domain for a known merchant of extreme and unusual pornography.

"But when you clicked on the join-up button it actually went to a page on our server," says Mott. "And that was the page you put your name and credit card number in. According to CCBill, he was resubmitting those numbers to obtain other goods and services.

"Basically, all these people from all over the world thought they were going to get some cheap porn -- it was $NZ1.95 -- but this gentleman was busy collecting their credit cards numbers for other use."

Mott says he notified the police, but did not lodge an official complaint "because we haven't suffered a loss and we don't really have time to deal with it". He says he spoke briefly to Detective Roy Parker, fraud collation officer for the New Zealand Police, "who indicated to me that the police had recently lost its only technical resource in this area to a corporate in Canada, so they couldn't assist."

Parker confirmed to IDG that his office would not be pursuing the matter any further.

"That's mainly because we haven't got any expertise in that particular field. We've been trying to get the department to get someone and train them up as a starter because obviously it's going to get worse and worse as time goes on," he says.

"It does take a certain amount of expertise to investigate something like that, which we don't have. We all basically work off a computer on our desks and we know which buttons to press every now and then."

Parker says he can't comment on the possibility, mooted in some quarters, that private agencies could come in and conduct such investigations where the police lack necessary skills.

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