The threat of jail time is no deterrent for online criminals, a former fraudster told a roomful of e-crime experts today.
Speaking at a seminar sponsored by the government-backed Cyber Security Knowledge Transfer Network, the ex-fraudster, known as 'T', argued that prison actually offers those convicted of identity theft the chance to share information with others.
"No one likes prison no matter what they say ... but it's no great incentive to go straight," he said.
"At the beginning I was nervous [about committing fraud] but after you've done it once, and the more you get away with it, the more you feel you'll never get caught."
'T' explained how he was continuously looking for call centre operatives to bribe with the aim of obtaining credit card details.
"A lot of the labour in call centres is students and there is a huge turnover so no-one there is really loyal," he explained.
"No one said they'd report me to the police and, after I built up a criminal relationship with one of them, I ended up with a network [of their friends and colleagues] and soon had more details than I could use."
The ex-fraudster also befriended estate agents, bribing them to hand over the keys to some of their properties which he then used to have fraudulently obtained goods and credit cards delivered.
"The most anyone would ever do is say 'no'," he explained. "I only needed one letting agent because they would have 40 or 50 properties on their books."
Although the man's criminal career lasted over three years, and ultimately cost him nearly four years in jail, 'T' said that the scale of the problem is being underestimated.
"It was widespread back then, but now they even have a term for it: identity theft," he said. "It's everywhere you go. People say it's a small problem but it's massive and I still know people doing that stuff."
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