Just because the Silk Road, the online black market for drugs and illegal services, got shut down doesn’t mean that criminal enterprise has stopped. On the contrary, it seems to have become more mainstream as thieves have found a new avenue to sell their wares: YouTube.
Particularly profitable seems to be stolen credit card numbers that work. Thieves will get the numbers and then insert them onto blank cards. Typing in “how to get credit card numbers that work 2014,” yields 252,000 results. Many of them are shut down as soon as they are put up, but clearly many videos get through because more are launched all the time. The videos typically direct criminals to sites where they can purchase the stolen numbers.
“It’s troubling to see criminals infest YouTube in this way,” said Tom Galvin, executive director of the Digital Citizens Alliance. “It’s equally troubling to see [YouTube parent] Google profit from that via ads, because it speaks to whether or not Google has an incentive to take this stuff down.”
A spokesperson for Google contradicted Galvin’s assessment that Google has a vested interest in keeping the illegal sites around, stating:“Our guidelines prohibit any content encouraging illegal activities, including videos promoting the sale of illegal goods,” she said to PCWorld by email. “YouTube’s review teams respond to videos flagged for our attention around the clock, removing millions of videos each year that violate our policies. We also have stringent advertising guidelines, and work to prevent ads appearing against any video, channel or page once we determine that the content is not appropriate for our advertising partners.”
The reality is that an entity as big as YouTube is bound to have some indirect income from illicit sources — anything of that size doesn’t exactly have a choice. Clearly they’re knocking these sites down as quickly as they show up — so cut the company some slack.
Share this article because there’s a good chance your credit card number is on one of these videos.
Here are some other social media criminals: