Monday, September 10, 2012

Kingpin by Kevin Poulsen

Kingpin (how one hacker took over the billion-dollar cybercrime underground), Kevin Poulsen.  New York: Crown Publishing, 2011.  approx. 288 pps.

N.B.  Kevin Poulsen is currently the news editor at the Wired website .  He has served his time in prison for his hacking crimes and thus has paid his debt to society. Poulsen deserves many kudos for writing the code which identified a bunch of convicted pedoheads on something which some employee or other of MySpace had stated publicly could not be done-- back around 1995 or so.

Carding is the act of stealing credit card data with or without the reproduction of fake credit cards and fake i.d.s to go with them.  It is a crime that the public in general may not know an awful lot about.  I've seen one brief mention on a television show about frauds.  It was a shot of a waitress using a device to steal the credit card numbers off the cards of her customers.  She ran the card through the device after pretending to drop the card on the floor.  As she picked up the card, she slid it along the back of her shoe before going off to the register with the card.  There is a whole lot more than that to carding.  There are forums with dumps-- list of credit card numbers-- for sale along with R.D.I.F. makers, card makers, hologram makers.  There are folks being paid to swipe cards in order to steal numbers like the waitress on teevee.  And folks who use the fake cards in stores to buy high end merchandise.  The merchandise is then exchanged for money.  The receiver will then sell the high end merchandise on various black markets.

Kingpin introduces the readers to Max Butler, the man behind the Max Vision legend who took over several carding boards and made a ton of money doing it.  Unfortunately, Butler left behind two wives and the possibility of a decent future on the outside of prison walls.

sapphoq reviews says: Because Poulsen was himself at one time a hacker involved in criminal activity [Not all hackers are criminals], Kingpin lacks the preachy tone that other tomes about cybercrimes possess in strident abundance.  Kingpin is fast-paced and gives a good feel for the world of carders and their ilk.  Highly recommended to techies and true crime aficionados.

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