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Feds shut down sites that sold stolen credit cards

Thursday - 4/26/2012, 5:23pm  ET

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The Justice Department says that an international investigation has resulted in the shutdown of 36 websites that were trafficking in stolen credit card numbers.

The seizures announced Thursday were part of what the government is calling Operation Wreaking hAVoC. The websites in question are commonly referred to as AVC's or automated vending carts.

A federal magistrate in Alexandria ordered the websites' seizures after the investigation, which included undercover purchases of stolen numbers.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, said it's the first time the federal government has seized websites trafficking in stolen card numbers. Law enforcement agencies in the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Macedonia, Ukraine, Romania and the Netherlands assisted the FBI in the investigation, the department said.

Before it was shut down, one of the sites,, featured a slick video with a spokeswoman touting the site against competitors who sold "poor quality cards with low balances." The site promised card numbers available for as low as $1 and offered guarantees against cards that turned out to be invalid.

"Countless lives are thrown into financial turmoil because of these websites," said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil MacBride. "With a few simple clicks, thousands of stolen credit card numbers can be bought or sold to fraudsters anywhere in the world. Today's seizures are part of an ongoing campaign to disrupt this online market regardless of where it operates."

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