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A Live Shakedown: Gangsters Target NFL Super Bowl

Online Players: A Live Shakedown

Hi-Tech Gangsters Target NFL Super Bowl in Multi-Billion Dollars Gambling Extortion

By Clarence Walker, Investigative Crime Journalist

February 7th 2010: Event: Super Bowl XLVI : Team: New Orleans Saints vs Indianapolis Colts.

On this highly anticipated day, Super Bowl Sunday will mark the 44th time in the history of the NFL (National Football League) to showcase the superior talent of two of the best professional football players in American sports.

While millions around the world anxiously await the upcoming game, set for kickoff at 6:p.m (U.S. time) the highly anticipated event which pits the New Orleans Saints against the Indianapolis Colts, has its climatic showdown between the athletic gladiators. It will determine which tean will win the 2009/2010 Super Bowl Championship.

As Superbowl #44 approaches near touchdown, gambling bets will rise astronomically. Billions will be gambled off across the globe on this historical event.

Last year, the internet gambling industry raked in an estimated $10-12 billion; about half of the revenues were generated by Americans, according to Capital HQ gaming analyst, Michael Tew.

Although millions of people will bet money over the internet on the championship game, the U.S. federal law in 2006 ruled internet gambling illegal, which means in simple terms - Americans are breaking the law every time they place a bet with internet gambling sites, most of which are conveniently located in offshore casinos.

According to the 2006 act, Congress adopted the regulation forbidding financial institutions from transacting in gaming revenues because "traditional law enforcement mechanisms are often inadequate for enforcing gambling prohibitions or regulations on the internet, particularly where gambling crosses state or national borders."

But legal or not, gambling and the NFL go hand-in-hand.

Bottom line, Super Bowl Sunday in America is the "biggest gambling day of the year."

With billions at stake, much of it to be wagered over the internet, online gambling operators are waiting to get a piece of the action.

But lurking in cyberspace are various invisible groups known as the 'Hi-Tech gangsters', and also known as cyber thieves; lying in wait and preparing to unleash a brute force of terror aimed at extorting internet gambling sites out of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Hi-tech gangsters, perhaps more appropriately referred to as professional hackers, carry out pure extortion which has reeked havoc upon online services. They achieve this by utilzing 'denial-of-service' attacks against internet gambling sites raking in millions of dollars from online gamblers.

For years, Britain's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHCTU) has been a leading force investigating cyber extortion of companies in the United Kingdom.

"These are not groups of amateur hackers because great deals of money are changing hands," says an NHCTU spokesman.

"Intelligence suggests that organized crime is involved."

According to national and International law enforcement agencies, organized crime groups based in Russia, Eastern Europe, Canada and Great Britain are preparing, in true mafioso style, to extort online gambling websites out of tons of money as the 2010 Super Bowl approaches on February 7, in New Orleans.

Most online gamblers are unaware that the sites where they place bets are often in fact held for ransom by sophisticated hackers chiefly powered by organized crime syndicates.

And amazingly, when these attacks happen, either during major sports events or typical daily transactions of money, not only do they have a common Mafia connection, but they are also colored by political and ideological committments and spread transnationally, according to the British Internet Security Firm known as the Mi2g Intelligence Unit.

These criminal hackers will typically block access to a website service in order to extort the operators of the site by using a series of interrelated computers manned by their associates and unleash a potent DDOS(distributed denial of service attacks) which disable the targeted websites.

Then an email threat is sent to the operator demanding between $40,000 to $100,000 to be wired by western union and once the money is paid off the extortionist will reactivate the service.

Hi-Tech Gangsters Shoot on Site

What you are about to read is a real life account on how professional online hackers operate -a feature story previously published: by journalist Clarence Walker.

As gambling sites whir away, processing thousands of online bets on the upcoming Superbowl, suddenly, a flood of incoming messages attack the computer, reducing traffic to a crawl. Shortly, the website operator will receive a threatening email.

Speaking in clear english, the message says, "What you experienced was a mere taste of a denial-of-service attack."

"If you want your sites to stay up and running, please wire $40,000 to different bank accounts in Eastern Europe."

What happens next is, if the operator refuses to pay, the site cannot process their customers' bets, which of course causes loss of revenues.

But if the extortion is paid, the site is allowed to keep operating.

"This is almost identical to a Mafia protection racket," said Dave Matthews, who then was the administrator for the Las Vegas Adviser, an online company serving the gaming industry.

With cybercrime becoming the world's most profitable illegal activity, John Mcmullan, a criminologist, says online gambling sites are targeted for "digital shakedowns" at peak times, "such as the 2009 Superbowl."

And law enforcement say these groups are hard to trace but most are located in Russia, Eastern Europe and China.

To alleviate extortion attacks, owners of sports books and online casinos must network together, spend money on technology defense to most effectively fight back against online extortion and not give in to demands by hi-tech criminals.


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