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Honour among thieves: Website reveals fraud within hacking world

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The Ripper.cc website is available to cybercriminals wishing to verify the credentials of people conducting illicit business on the dark web. With over 1,000 entries, the website names known fraudsters who have scammed hackers.

However, by reducing the risks and costs associated with cybercrime, websites that provide services to hackers may further legitimize and professionalize cybercrime.

Common activities for rippers include selling invalid or used stolen credit cards, selling fake social media credentials, or stealing money by accepting payment for illicit goods which are then not delivered.

The Ripper.cc database cross-references identified scammers across a variety of forums, and includes contact information as well as details of fraudulent schemes (known as ‘blacks’).

Cybercriminals, conducting illicit activities without some measure of the trustworthiness of their partners, are subject to what is commonly known as a ‘ripper tax’. The cybercriminals must undertake a certain amount of risk with every transaction – the other party may very well renege on their end of the deal, taking money for a transaction which is then either not completed as promised, or at all.

A database of rippers, then, is intended to reduce the amount of risk undertaken by cybercriminals. A hacker can check Ripper.cc for information on their potential partner in crime, for a measure of that person’s reliability. The site also relies on users to report frauds and scams in which they have been victimized, in order to keep the database updated and relevant.

While an existing ripper database does exist, the Russian kidala blacklist, it has been criticized for being incomplete and not always impartial, as some suggest that a ripper profile can be removed from kidala for money.

Ripper.cc offers a jabber (PsiPlus) plugin, as well as Firefox and Chrome extensions, to allow users to easily identify fraudsters even outside of the website.

The founders of Ripper.cc have been up front with users about their intention to unseat existing services, including kidala, by providing upgrades to services and performance. They have also promised to open-source the website’s source code and to receive money to run the site from advertisers, in order to alleviate user concerns about the integrity of the information provided.