Drug dealers in the United States are turning their backs on narcotics and moving into the world of online fraud to make a living. That's the message coming out of Infosecurity Europe 2007 today.

Apparently defrauding innocent people over the internet is a lot less hassle than operating in the violent world of narcotics smuggling and drug dealing.

The FBI has warned that many drugs cartels are moving away from the narcotics business. Instead they're turning dealers into professional identity thieves, according to Protegrity chief Gordon Rapkin.

Apparently the gangs spend their time stealing credit card details from various sources. And once they have enough forged cards, they converge en masse at shopping centres, with individually pre-agreed shopping lists, to spend around £100 each.

Lighter sentences

These small amounts reduce the risk of cards being rejected by the shops. "Basically the profits are about the same, plus there's the added bonus of not being shot at," said Rapkin.

"The sentences are [also] much lighter and the FBI and other law enforcement are less interested in tracking down the perpetrators, or not interested at all if the amounts stolen are small enough."

Once gangs have bought valuable goods en masse with the stolen cards, they can re-sell it all online.