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How a cyber cop patrols the underworld of e-commerce

Taylor Armerding | April 17, 2014
Payza 'cyber cop' Melissa Andrews tracks good, bad and ugly websites with the mission of shutting down criminal operations.

Initially some of the websites I came across when I first started did pose a shock, however over time, you do get used to it. It's obvious that there are a variety of unique websites and ways people use them to make money online.

Describe a typical day.
I wouldn't say that any day is typical, which is one of the reasons I love this job. I'm never really sure what the day will hold. However, generally speaking my day consists of reviewing websites for both new and existing clients, mitigating our risk exposure by using the numerous tools and processes we have in place such as persistent website monitoring and our proprietary fraud matrix.

What does a job like this do to you emotionally and psychologically?
While it takes a certain type of person to be able to do this job, the truth is your can't un-see what you saw. There are times when you feel like going home to watch a cartoon to reclaim some innocence.

Have you ever sought therapy to cope with it?
Luckily, it hasn't come to that. We have a great HR department that is always available if I need them. While there are many terrible things out there, and not just online, I take solace in all the good people I have around me both at work and in my personal life.

Is your job to track down and catch predators, shut down bad sites or more than that?
Our primary goal is to review, monitor, investigate and help mitigate the risk associated with e-commerce. Our objective is to allow legitimate merchants to use our systems, while restricting illegitimate ones from getting in. We have numerous procedures and processes in place that allow us to monitor illegal and unethical use of our brand and services. When these are found, and some are found easier than others, we take the appropriate action on our side, along with advising the necessary governmental agencies.

Without getting too graphic, describe some of the worst sites on the Web. What are they trying to do?
Most bad sites will try and hide the true nature of what they're doing. They'll offer a simple product like coffee or shoes, but behind the scenes be selling illegal drugs, or promoting hate, racism, etc. But the ones that bother me the most are any that have pre-adult content. Unfortunately content like that exists and I'm happy to be able to help shut it down.

Do you know how successful you and your colleagues are in achieving your goals?
We've seen immediately response to our tips and action within days. Helping to shut down illegal websites, phishing websites, reducing credit card fraud and malware is what I strive for.

 

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