Stealing ten million dollars a few hundred dollars at a time used to be too labor-intensive to be a great business. Not anymore. The Internet and advances in semiconductor technology are revolutionizing theft and fraud. Thieves can now steal tens of millions of dollars at very high profit margins from low-value targets--at very low cost to themselves.
The recent indictment of a global hacker ring by federal prosecutors is a harbinger of cybercrime's future. The ring stole 160 million credit card numbers and sold the data for about $10 per USA card. The same group stole information on 800,000 bank accounts. More than $300 million was taken from three affected companies.
And now the news for cybercriminals is getting even better: a shadowy cybercrime underground is providing them with tools and services that will make them more efficient.
The productivity of low-level cyber-laborers can be staggering. No minimum wages here. The recent $45 million cyber-theft that targeted Bank of Muscat of Oman and National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah PSC (RAKBANK) of the United Arab Emirates spanned 27 countries. In ten hours, approximately $40 million was stolen in 36,000 transactions, or about $1,100 per transaction. The leaders of global crime ring that pulled off the heist have yet to be identified. Seven of the eight cyber-laborers who worked New York City have been apprehended. The eighth is believed to have died. The eight were able to steal $2.9 million in ten hours. The local gang kept around 20% or roughly $600,000. That comes out to about $7500 per hour per thief--more than one thousand times the city's minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. What a great alternative to flipping burgers.