A new variant of the notorious Zeus identity-theft Trojan is making the rounds and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) says it is capable of defeating common methods of user authentication employed by financial institutions.
The latest strain of the ID-theft malware, called Gameover, begins as a phishing scheme with spam e-mails -- purportedly from the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA), the Federal Reserve Bank, or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) -- that leads to malware infection and eventual access to the victim's bank account.
From the FBI warning:
The malware is appropriately called “Gameover” because once it’s on your computer, it can steal usernames and passwords and defeat common methods of user authentication employed by financial institutions. And once the crooks get into your bank account, it’s definitely “game over.”
Gameover is a newer variant of the Zeus malware, which was created several years ago and specifically targeted banking information.
The FBI said the phishing lures typically includes a link in the e-mail that goes to a phony website. "Once you’re there, you inadvertently download the Gameover malware, which promptly infects your computer and steals your banking information," it warned.
The FBI said recent investigations have shown that some of the funds stolen from bank accounts go towards the purchase of precious stones and expensive watches from high-end jewelry stores.
The criminals contact these jewelry stores, tell them what they’d like to buy, and promise they will wire the money the next day. So the next day, a person involved in the money laundering aspect of the crime—called a “money mule”—comes into the store to pick up the merchandise. After verifying that the money is in the store’s account, the jewelry is turned over to the mule, who then gives the items to the organizers of the scheme or converts them for cash and uses money transfer services to launder the funds.
Here's a good look at how the scheme works:
(Click chart for full size)