On the Internet’s dark markets, Perfect Money appears to be the best alternative to the recently-shut down Liberty Reserve, sources tell TechWeek
Now that cyber crooks’ bank of choice Liberty Reserve has been shut down, those buying and selling kit are busily looking for fresh ways to do deals anonymously, and it appears Perfect Money is an early favourite.
A contact working the underground forums told TechWeekEurope that, for now, fraudsters are rapidly migrating to Perfect Money, which is based out of Panama. The company had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.
Several automated credit card stores, where credit card data is exchanged, have already adopted the e-currency service. Many other vendors have also started accepting it, having previously primarily used Liberty Reserve, the source said.
Perfect Money the perfect choice?
“I’ve seen a multitude of payment options now becoming acceptable by specific vendors, but the majority seem to go with Perfect Money,” added the source.
Dark web crooks may be attracted to Perfect Money due to its stance on working with Americans, following the death of Liberty Reserve, which was taken down thanks to an operation led by US law enforcement. Five individuals, including Liberty Reserve founder Arthur Budovsky, were arrested over the past week, as the US Justice Department claimed the company laundered $6 billion (£4bn) in criminal proceeds.
Perfect Money appears to have distanced itself from the US. A post on the company’s website on 25 May revealed it would no longer accept new registrations from individuals or organisations based in the US.
“This includes US citizens residing overseas. If you fall under the above mentioned category or a US resident, please do not register an account with us,” the company said. “We apologise for inconvenience caused.”
WebMoney, referred to as WMZ, also looks to be gaining some traction and could be the eventual winner here, as there is some indication Perfect Money is trying to distance itself from fraudsters. One forum user said he was turned down by Perfect Money as their “type of activity is not welcome”, as seen in the forum posts below:
Digital currency crackdown
The US Justice Department has declared war on currencies widely used by cyber criminals. The US didn’t just shut down libertyreserve.com – it was handed control of four other currency exchanges with links to Liberty Reserve. And a civil action was filed against 35 exchange sites, asking them to give up their domain names, as noted by security blogger Brian Krebs.
It was thought Bitcoin would be a handy replacement for Liberty Reserve. But since the US government has shown an interest in regulating Bitcoin and the exchanges that help it operate, it has become a less attractive proposition for criminals.
Mt.Gox, the largest Bitcoin exchange in the world, recently had some of its funds confiscated by the US Department of Homeland Security.
And it may not offer the full anonymity dark web dealers are looking for, thanks to the block chain, which keeps a record of all Bitcoin transactions. That system makes it possible for police to trace users, whilst exchanges offer centralised areas for law enforcement to raid and find out who is making dodgy purchases with the so-called “crypto-currency”.
What do you know about Internet security? Find out with our quiz!