Monday, January 08, 2007

FBI & New York Police on the Trail of StudioTraffic


StudioTraffic was once one of the largest paid to autosurf sites on the net. It had existed for several years and was branded as one of the safest and most long lasting investment sites on the net, somewhat akin to AllAdvantage. StudioTraffic paid out a 1% daily investment on whatever money the user inputted into their account through their own payment processor system, StudioPay. All they had to do was run the auto-surf script everyday to make their 1% income. Investors were assured that the money put into StudioTraffic was being used, by their other companies, such as an upstart record label, a web hosting company, an internet cafe was in the discussion of being open. All the while, the investors did not know that what they were participating in was an age old scheme known as a prime bank fraud and ponzi scheme.

This was the time of the auto-surf boom, and another company just springing up was 12DailyPro, which paid out at a rate of 12% cycles over 12 days of a persons investment. In the end, the SEC shut 12DailyPro down and most of the last investors are left with very little money to be had, and not expecting much from the government.

At the end of StudioTraffic, it crumbled slowly. A hacker broke into StudioPay and posted online thousands of pictures of individuals who had submitted their drivers licenses and other personally identifying information. It is not know what has become of this data and what other security risks might have been brought from that incident. However, the staff at StudioTraffic sent out an email to it's members which seems to insinuate that they not only did not know what happened, how to fix it, or what action to take.

Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 12:52:47 -0600 [02/21/2006 12:52:47 PM CST]
From: service@studiopay.com
To: xxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Hello

Dear Member

Security issues have been our priority recently following claims
from an individual that he/she hacked the StudioPay information on some
members accounts.

At this point in time we are investigating this issue and
working closely with authorities worldwide to trace this person.

In the following link you will find some advice about identity theft,
how to discover it, who to contact and also some preventative measures.

http://www.fightidentitytheft.com/identity_theft_learn.html

This information is specific to USA, but any member can enter "identity
theft" into a search engine and get information specific to their
own country.

Until our investigations are complete we feel that we should treat these
allegations seriously. To this end we recommend that you take any
steps you feel necessary to protect yourself.

Our recommendations are:

Report to your local police station the possibility that your
identity information has been compromised. In the event that this
does arise then there will be a record for you to refer to.

Make a report to your credit card company if you used your credit card
statement to verify your account. By doing this your credit card
account will be noted and both you and the credit card company can w
be vigilant and watch for unusual or suspicious transactions.

If you used your bank account statement to verify your account submit a
report to your bank, again this will ensure that your accounts
are noted.

Please follow any advice that your bank or other companies you contact
give you.

At this point in time we are unable to determine how much, if any,
informaton [sic] this person has obtained. As stated earlier, we are
working closely with authorities in different countries try and track
this individual.

We are introducing some new security features. You may recall that you
were asked to change your StudioTraffic password recently. The same
security feature, planned for StudioPay, has now been introduced ahead
of schedule and we would ask that all members change their StudioPay
password immediately. You will be prompted to change it every
three months (every 6 months in StudioTraffic). In doing so please
ensure that you use a strong password that cannot be easily worked
out.

Any steps you take now may be of huge importance in the future. The
security and safety of our members is our utmost priority and we
urge you to err on the side of caution and follow our recommendations.

Should any of our members experience fraudulent use of their personal
information into the future please contact us and we will work with
you and the authorities to resolve the situation.

For now we will continue to investigate the situation and should we
be able to pinpoint any members that may be targetted we will
contact those members directly.

Regards

StudioPrograms Admin Team

Soon, members of the inner circle of StudioTraffic began to break ranks and posted the truth behind ST and it's sister companies. Although it was clear that ST was on it's way out, some people still heldfast to the belief that StudioTraffic could make it, and continued to donate to it to keep it alive, all to no avail in the end.

The StudioTraffic website was taken down with the help of members at the talkgold forum, by contacting the administrators of the ISP who was hosting the site. They decided that the manner in which ST operated was not in compliance with their Terms of Service and/or Acceptable Use Policy. Prior to that, the anonymous John Horan, owner of the site, sent out an email to all users regarding the situation.

After that, all went quite for several months. User's submitted their complaints online, and we did not hear much about it since then. In May 2006 I received a call from the
Onondaga County Sheriff's Dept. requesting information on my interactions with StudioTraffic and StudioPay, which seems to have been registered in Brookport New York, and was operating as an illegal unlicensed money transfer service. I spoke to a detective with the Sheriff's department and told him everything he knew. His name was John Scarson and, with his partner, Jamie Bloomer, they were investigating the StudioPay lead. They told me they had gotten my number off the complaint I filed at the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). After that, I hadn't heard much, until I got this email in my inbox a few weeks ago.

Date: 20 Dec 2006 18:08:07 -0500 [12/20/2006 05:08:07 PM CST]
From: Do not reply
Subject: Studiopay/Studiotraffic investigation

Dear xxxxxxxx:

Studiopay/Studiotraffic is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the FBI and Onondaga County Sheriffs Department. Investigation of this matter has developed information that you have had financial transactions with one, or both, of these companies. If you have been victimized by either of these companies please file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at the following website:

http://www.ic3.gov/

Please reference Studiopay as the subject of the investigation when filing your complaint. Provide as much detail as possible pertaining to monies invested, individuals contacted, method of contact (telephone, mail, E-mail etc...), amounts, and dates of payment and any amounts received from Studiopay. If possible, include dates of contact, the Studiopay employees contacted and brief summaries of the conversations.
I verified that this email was actually from the FBI's IC3 department by examining the headers of the email. So, now it seems that the FBI and the Onondaga County Sheriffs Department are dedicated to tracking down the operators of StudioTraffic and bringing them to justice for their crimes fraud, deceit, and total disregard for anything but their own selfish money stealing scheme.

So, if you have further information about StudioTraffic or StudioPay or any of their related dealings, please send them to the IC3 site above. You may also contact the FBI at their HQ in Washington, DC. At the time I spoke to the Onondaga County Sheriffs Department their phone number was (315)435-1401 and fax (315)435-1402, although I am not sure these two numbers are still valid.

You can find more information about the legacy of StudioTraffic on these sites.



With your help, we can put the owners, operators, and propagators of StudioTraffic where they belong and finally bring this criminal regime down to smoke, ash, and to the rust bin of history.

1 comment:

mark said...

Good luck finding the culprits!

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