Credit card fraudsters may actually have sensitive and caring hearts and you just don’t know it. In fact, they have been routinely donating money to charities – with the help of credit cards they have stolen.
Before you go thinking they are actually doing this out of the goodness of their hearts, check out the real reason for their donations: they just want to make sure your credit card is any good before they go making purchases on it. Taking a card to the store or purchasing an item online with a card that is no good raises more alarms than making a donation to a charity with a credit card.
Symantec, an Internet security company, uncovered the devious little plan by monitoring IRC channels that are set up just for trading stolen credit cards and personal information. Through their monitoring, they found that donating to charities is a sort of validation system used by these thieves to make sure the card is actually active and has not been reported as stolen. Since these transactions are not considered “regular purchases” they are not monitored as closely by the credit card companies.
While this seems like a potential silver lining in a dark cloud, these “donations” are not providing credit card companies with any kind of substantial income. Usually, the amount of money charged is minimal, with some thieves donating just a few pennies. At most, charities receive $10 from these fraudsters. Considering these thieves are purchasing the stolen cards for as little as $1-$6, you would think they could afford to cough up a little more for a good cause.
Not that it would really matter…charities are above accepting stolen donations when they learn of them. In fact, a spokesperson for Red Cross stated that all of the money they receive from fraudulent donations or unauthorized transactions are returned. The spokesperson also stated that receiving these donations happens on a routine basis and, for that reason, they actually have placed fraud protection measures in place in order to monitor for these transactions. In June alone, the organization received 700 fraudulent donations online, for a total of about $7,000. Considering the total number of donations that month was 3,600, that is a significant percentage.