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Examining Signals of Trust in Criminal Markets Online

NCJ Number
255250
Date Published
December 2017
Length
9 pages
Author(s)
Thomas J. Holt; Olga Smirnova; Alice Hutchings
Agencies
NIJ-Sponsored
Publication Type
Research (Applied/Empirical), Report (Study/Research), Report (Grant Sponsored), Program/Project Description
Grant Number(s)
2010-IJ-CX-1676
Annotation
This study examined the factors associated with positive and negative buyer feedback from the purchase of stolen credit card data in a series of advertisements from a sample of Russian- and English-language forums where individuals buy and sell personal information.
Abstract
Understanding information asymmetry in stolen data markets is essential for acquiring knowledge of the signals that demonstrate a seller is trustworthy, as well as for identifying the formal and informal factors that encourage vendor success. Recognizing the practices of sellers and their influence on buyer reviews can also increase understanding of the social relationships that affect individual's position within the market generally. In turn, the findings may enable identification of the factors that encourage market failure and reduce demand by pushing quality sellers out of the market. The results of zero-inflated Poisson regression models suggest that the sellers may influence their likelihood of receiving feedback by specifying the type of payment mechanism, choosing the advertisement language and selecting the type of market they operate within. The implications of this study for understanding online illicit markets, criminological theory, and policymaking are explored. The findings of this analysis suggest that the conditions within stolen data markets may be manipulated and destabilized through the introduction of information asymmetry. It may be possible to complicate the process of interpreting signals by flooding the market with multiple false posts for products, as well as feedback for sellers. This technique, referred to as a Sybil attack, may be effective in creating too many false signals and increasing the difficulty in determining who is a reliable vendor. 3 table and 51 references (publisher abstract modified)
Date Created: July 20, 2021