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One in four hackers in US 'is an FBI informer': Report

June 8, 2011 - Washington

One in four online criminals is secretly working for the FBI and US secret service, to inform on their peers, it has emerged.

By threatening long prison sentences, officers have successfully managed to infiltrate communities of the online criminals, recruiting a huge number of informants, The Daily Mail reports.

The moles, who are already embedded deep inside the hacking community, are then reporting back to the FBI about large-scale identity fraud in an attempt to earn themselves softer sentences, the paper said.

The FBI moles are even running some major illegal forums where hackers sell stolen credit card details and forged identities, it has been claimed.

The management of other sites have been taken over by FBI agents posing as ID theft specialists, or 'carders', where they can use the intelligence to put genuine hackers behind bars.

Eric Corley, who publishes 2600, the hacker quarterly, estimated that as many as a quarter of all hackers in the U.S. may have been recruited by authorities to be their eyes and ears, the paper said.

"Owing to the harsh penalties involved and the relative inexperience with the law that many hackers have, they are rather susceptible to intimidation," he said.

Barrett Brown, a spokesman for the 'hacktivist' group claimed that the FBI is always there in the chat rooms and one cannot identify who is an informant and who isn't.

"The FBI are always there. They are always watching, always in the chat rooms. You don't know who is an informant and who isn't, and to that extent you are vulnerable," said the spokesman.


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