Cyber criminals avoid fraud within their own ranks with new site

Ripper.cc has close to 1,000 profiles of known scammers

Sometimes it's not easy being a cyber criminal. In addition to law enforcement and private security companies, cyber thieves have to battle fraudsters out to beat them at their own game, but a web site offers to help.

Ripper.cc has been maintaining a database of known “rippers” or scammers since June last year and security firm Digital Shadows, which has been investigating it, says it may help online black markets flourish.

Fraud is a nagging problem in the cyber criminal world, according to Digital Shadows. Although some hackers believe in honor amongst thieves, others are peddling bogus goods, such as stolen credit card numbers or user credentials that turn out to be fake.

The cost of doing business in this risky climate means hackers are saddled with a “ripper tax," Digital Shadows said in a Tuesday blog post. “This in turn, slows the market down and makes further cyberattacks less lucrative."

However, Ripper.cc is building a database of known fraudsters. It already has close to 1,000 profiles, each of which can include the ripper’s screen names, the contact methods used, and details about the specific scams the offender was involved in.

resizedimage800354 ripper homepage Digital Shadows

Ripper.cc's homepage.

Visitors to the site can also create new profiles for rippers that have scammed them. In addition, Ripper.cc is offering third-party software extensions that can highlight the names of fraudsters when they appear in Firefox, Chrome and the instant messaging platform Jabber.

Although Ripper.cc has an English interface, the site started off as an idea in the Russian underground forum Exploit.in back in mid-2015. As a result, many of the profiles on the site are written in the Russian language.

In a way, the service is functioning much like a startup, Digital Shadows said. This is because Ripper.cc is trying to disrupt the existing incumbent Kidala.info, a Russian site that has also maintained a database of known rippers since 2005.

However, Ripper.cc appears to be more ambitious. It has aspirations to branch out from cybercrime and into tracking rippers within the “gaming and general goods” market, according to Digital Shadows.

For now, the site is drawing income mainly from Russian online advertising. It’s also considering a mobile app and an escrow service to streamline the trusted buying and selling of illegal goods for hackers. The danger is that service will also lead to a boon in cybercrime, Digital Shadows said.

The site “is another example of the industrialization of hacking and the growing professionalism of cybercrime,” the security firm added.

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