330k Payment Cards and $38m in Gift Cards Stolen in Online Gift Shop Incident

In February 2021, a threat actor sold 895,000 stolen gift cards on a top-tier Russian-language forum. The gift cards had an approximate value of $38 million, and allegedly came from more than 3,000 top name brand companies such as AirBnB, Amazon, American Airlines, Chipotle, Dunkin Donuts, Marriott, Nike, Subway, Target, and Walmart. The auction opened with a starting price of $10,000 and a buy-now price of $20,000. The gift cards were bought by
another actor soon after they were posted for sale.

The next day, the same seller listed 330,000 credit and debit payment cards. The card information did not include CVV or cardholder name. The auction opened the bidding at $5,000
with a buy-now price of $15,000. The payment cards also sold within days of being offered for sale.

Gemini Advisory analysts  determined the source of the stolen payment cards was a breach of the online discount gift card shop Cardpool.com. They also assess with moderate confidence that Cardpool.com was also the source of the stolen gift cards.

Note that this was not a recent breach. The payment card breach occurred between February 4, 2019 and August 4, 2019. Cardpool.com closed in early 2021, but it’s not totally clear how much the breach may have contributed to its closure. According to an article on AARP.org cited a number of factors including the pandemic, but also:

  • Customers who “did not understand our business and either sold us a gift card that they then used or sold to another gift card exchange.”
  • Fraudsters who “used stolen credit cards to purchase gift cards and then sold those cards to Cardpool.” Once the use of pilfered credit cards was discovered, the card-issuing “companies removed the balance and Cardpool was left holding the bag and it ended up costing Cardpool millions of dollars.”

Complalints to the Better Business Bureau had already started spiking in 2018, before the breach, and then they just continued to climb.

For readers who, like me, are not particularly knowledgable about carding, Gemini Advisory’s blog post ill help you become more informed. You can read it here.

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