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Botnet Operator Comes Clean About Casino Scam

Busted GhostMarket.net member posted on an underground forum how he stole nearly $30,000 with credit card fraud.



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What does the inside of a botnet operation look like? Gary Kelly, 21, from Manchester, England, who's been charged with operating a botnet, recently came clean in an online post to an underground forum.

Kelly is one of five people in the United Kingdom who were charged earlier this month with fraud-related crimes and organized criminal activities relating to a private online forum known as GhostMarket.net, which contained more than 8,000 members.

According to the U.K. Police Central eCrime unit, the suspects provided "through GhostMarket.net, credit card data, credit card verification programs, and malicious computer programs designed to cause unauthorized access to computers," as well as fraud tutorials and instructions for manufacturing crystal meth.

Authorities say that two of the accused -- not Kelly -- were arrested in January with a laptop containing details of more than 100,000 credit cards, which could been used to reap up to $18.7 million, and which linked them to GhostMarket.net.

But that's not the end of the story.

"What makes this case more interesting is that Mr. Kelly posted a long message about the case to an underground forum," said Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer for antivirus and computer security company F-Secure, who reprinted the message on his own blog.

In the post, Kelly says he got into trouble in November 2009, "to do with ZeuS and some other stuff," all related to GhostMarket.net. "Basically they got me on: CC fraud, ZeuS (15k infections) with like 2m logs (6GB), scamming a casino 10k GBP, another 9k from WU." In other words, he was charged with credit card fraud, using automated financial crimeware toolkit Zeus, scamming a casino for the equivalent of $15,600 and illicitly obtaining $14,050 via Western Union.

How did Kelly get caught? "In all honesty it could be one of the following," he wrote, guessing that either his "ISP was watching," or else "the fact that I used a legitmate (sic) domain for zeus," which he paid for with a credit card in his own name. "Either way I fail, I got caught," he said.

Reflecting on his crime, Kelly wrote that "I dont know how long to expect but im told it isnt a minor thing." (sic)

The trial of the five accused GhostMarket.net operators is set to begin in October.

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