Currently, an illegal marketplace that can solve many problems for cyber criminals and affect everyone else exists, as mentioned by digital forensics specialists from the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS).
This marketplace, called Probiv, allows a criminal to find information for sale in order to rob an entire company or a jealous husband to get access to his wife’s cell phone, her location in real time and everything she has in her WhatsApp account.
Imagine this marketplace as the combination of Amazon and Fiverr. It is a site that already has a great established reputation and that anyone can access in order to obtain information, products or gigs at a very affordable price.
Amazon and Fiverr, as you probably know, are two very famous marketplaces in today’s digital world. The former is known for offering a wide variety of items for sale, usually located in different categories. Amazon is to where we go when we want to buy something that arrives directly at our doorstep, with just a few clicks. On the other hand, Fiverr is to where people turn when looking for a fast and cheap service or gig, as mentioned by digital forensics specialists. The gigs offered on Fiverr start at only $5.
Probiv is a combination of both these sites but with all kinds of services or information for sale, with absolutely no restrictions.
You can easily think that Probiv is only for experienced cybercriminals; however, this is not the case. This platform is used by many people, from beginner users to the most common people you can imagine, mainly because it is not in the deep web.
This platform was born in 2014, as a response to a demand of highly specialized sales, information, products and services that are often illegal.
Probiv, which in Russian is a slang term for “search”, is a platform that currently hosts millions of posts and hundreds of thousands of members. When it started, it was only a digital forensics and cybercriminal forum dedicated to the sale of specialized information. Today, it has not only grown in offers and categories for sale, but is available to almost anyone who is interested in joining. This is why currently its popularity has grown exponentially and it keeps on growing.
In Probiv you can find products or services listed at different prices. Services that could affect you or your company.
Its sales are basically divided into two categories. There is information or services offerings and product offerings, including products obtained in illegal ways.
Data or Service Offering
Digital forensics specialists mention that data offering on this platform offers up-to-date information that comes directly from the employees or former employees of an organization or company.
Here, prices vary depending on the sensibility of the information requested and the risk that could imply for the same provider, but generally their prices are not tahta high. In Provib, information is sold at prices that begin at only $10 per piece of data. Buyers and sellers usually communicate through private messages within the same forum, through Jabber IDs or Telegram accounts.
There are cases in which people simply cannot open a bank account because they do not have all the required documents. There are people living illegally in a country or running from the law; however, through this platform they can have a normal bank account, like everyone else. This is possible because at Probiv, service vendors offer to open bank accounts for a fee. They obtain them with documents from other registered citizens or with the help of bank employees who do not mind slipping these accounts in order to obtain an extra income.
Within these services, there are also bank employees willing to sell customer data such as balances, withdrawals, payments, and account statements, digital forensics speciañists stated. Additionally, they offer to do illegal verifications on the banking history of a person or company.
Furthermore, if someone is applying for a loan but the bank has rejected it, sellers on Probiv see to it that it is approved. They do this with the help of bank employees, using a verifiable address from the country required.
Another type of information that is sold within these services is credit card information. The illegal sale of leaked credit card data may not something new; however, unlike other illegal forums in the deep web, the information sold in Probiv does not come from data leaks nor from banks that had suffered a cyberattack, but rather these are obtained by employees or former employees from the bank directly, making this information completely up-to-date.
In this platform, there is also a wide variety of telecommunications service vendors. These are vendors with access to data from cell phone companies. Among the services they offer are providing call details, SMS records and the location of a targeted cell phone number. They obtain these from the client’s records of the companies they work for. Unfortunately, most of the buyers of these services are jealous spouses who want details of the calls and the real-time location of their husbands or wives.
Another service offered here is to get you a SIM card from any country without an official ID.
Some sellers in this section even offer to make ransom calls or fake calls for whatever purpose needed. The criminal who buys this service only has to specify the call he needs and a platform provider does it for a fee.
Just a few years ago, two support employees of a famous telecom company were convicted for photographing data on their phones and sending it to their customers they met within this marketplace.
Government agencies services
In many cases, people who work in government departments do not earn a high salary; however, the digital forensics specialists mention they do earn access to a great deal of important information.
For example, a very popular service in this marketplace comes from the Taxes department. Probiv sellers offer tax evasion services, which means they can modify your tax details in the system so that you don’t have to pay taxes anymore. They also sell details about companies and important people, mainly to competitors interested. Of course, these services are more expensive than others. As if that weren’t enough, some employees in these departments even offer financial secrets of companies for sale.
Another service is clearing criminal records
The HR department of a company will usually request you a criminal background check when you’re applying for a new job. At Probiv, vendors take care of erasing criminal records. There are even corrupt police officers who offer their services on this platform. In addition, some government employees offer their help in order to solve legal problems within a government department.
Other government vendors offer information from passport departments, personal information that can be found on driver’s licenses, real estate purchase records, etc. Digital forensics specialists mention that there are even advertisements on how to get free electricity. Apparently there are vendors willing to give courses on how to modify electricity meters.
At Probiv, business secrets are also for sale. This is because there are many companies interested in the secrets of their competitors, information such as what are their products under development, their new marketing strategies or even information about personal scandals that involve a company owner and that could affect the stock prices. This last piece of information can be used to buy or sell stocks before everyone knows it, thus obtaining great monetary benefits, as told by digital forensics specialists.
There are also vendors on this marketplace who offer online votes, to win a popularity contest within a social network, for example. Another service that many people would be interested in is helping you clear online tests or telephone interviews. At Probiv, a vendor can clear the exam or interview you have to take over the phone or online, hence getting you the job or career of your dreams.
Product offering here is very similar to other illegal forums but accessible to anyone interested. Of course, prices will vary depending on the product, from hundreds to thousands of dollars. These products are mainly offered by employees working in specific companies or even at government departments.
Identification documents and illegal money exchange
This section includes the sale of passports, driver’s licenses and university degrees from different countries. They offer a wide variety of degrees, from bachelor’s to master’s degrees, as mentioned by digital forensics specialists. These have been purchased from employees working at different universities in many countries.
There are also vendors offering recommendation letters you can use to apply for a new job or in the process of entering a new school. Generally, sellers are insiders, working in different companies, who can give you a letter of recommendation with the original format of their company or institution.
Airline tickets and hotels reservations
There are many sellers of air tickets and hotel reservations at very low prices. These are regularly purchased using stolen mileage accounts or by taking advantage of vulnerabilities in booking sites.
Medical devices and Supplements
In Probiv, you can also find access to illegal medicines, medical devices and health supplements for sale. Most of the vendors offering them are government hospital employees.
Additionally, stolen phones, supermarket products, clothing, computers, designer products and imitations are also sold.
Who provides all these services?
In this illegal marketplace, there are even job offers advertised. At Probiv they have an attractive job offer list that is meant for people looking for a second job, people who already have positions in banks, telecommunications companies, pharmaceutical companies and government departments such as immigration, etc. The typical person who would take a job offer in this marketplace is a young man or woman, working in a low position but in an important department or company, regularly with a low income and looking for an additional part-time job.
Those who have been caught selling illegal information in this type of marketplaces have been sales assistants, managers, employees of cell phone companies or banks, with easily available data, digital forensics experts mention.
Due to the nature of their work and the services being sold, they do not handle a large number of requests at once, which keeps them relatively safe. After all, the entire existence and process of Probiv is based on employees willing to risk their positions within an organization or company.
Payments at Probiv are generally made through escrows. According to digital forensics specialists, these are third-party intermediaries, who receive and disburse the money for the parties that carry out the transaction.
The deal regularly works this way, after a sale, service or job has been agreed upon, the buyer sends their funds to the neutral third party known as an escrow. Then, after the buyer has confirmed that the information, product or work received from the seller is what was agreed upon, the custodian delivers the money to the seller. The escrow also charges a percentage for the services rendered. This payment system helps to create guarantees and reduce the chances of a scam.
Now, knowing that this marketplace exists and that there are employees of the companies with which we work and hire services that we cannot trust, we must be very careful when protecting our data. We must also never be part of these sales systems. We should never, under no circumstances, use services or products that are offered in illegal forums or marketplaces like this, even if they are available to anyone, as there is always the possibility of getting into serious troubles.
Furthermore, we must demand the closure of these types of marketplaces to prevent the sale of illegal information or services that can affect us all.
Cyber Security Specialist with 18+ years of industry experience . Worked on the projects with AT&T, Citrix, Google, Conexant, IPolicy Networks (Tech Mahindra) and HFCL. Constantly keeping world update on the happening in Cyber Security Area.