Priceless: Mastercard closes NZ phisher site in worldwide operation

Operation Stop Identity Theft nets mystery Kiwi phishing site

MasterCard announced yesterday that its anti-fraud Operation IT has closed down nearly 1,400 phishing sites worldwide. New Zealand was markedly under-represented in Operation Stop IT, however: Korea led the way in Asia-Pacific with 83 sites and the Aussies managed a solid 13, but there was only one phishing site found in New Zealand.

Computerworld asked for further details on the Kiwi phishing site, but MasterCard did not make them available.

As with spam, most of the phishing sites were located in the US; MasterCard says just under half were hosted Stateside.

As part of Operation IT, MasterCard also targeted so called "carding" sites, where stolen credit card numbers are traded. Between June 2004 and May 2005, Operation IT shut down some 700 carding sites. MasterCard also says it helped detect 133 Asian tsunami phishing sites until January this year, which apparently prevented a number of online fraudsters from cashing in on the natural disaster.

Operation IT was launched in June last year, with the purpose of identifying online credit card trading rings, according to MasterCard. The company says it does so via 24/7 internet monitoring, but doesn't divulge the details on how it is done. MasterCard also says it is working with police as well as ISPs, but while it claims that 93% of phishing/spoofing sites were taken down within 48 hours of detection, it didn't say if it had been succesful in prosecuting the fraudsters.

MasterCard claims its campaign has sharply reduced the number of carding sites, with only about ten new sites detected this month, compared to 139 in June last year.

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