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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.

What are some of the more interesting stories that have come out of your work -- humorous, tragic, revolting or horrific?
I've seen all kinds of websites, and I am often surprised with the nature of products or content people choose to sell and or promote online, but there is a market for literally everything online.

One of the more recent was a "client" who sent us a website to review and wasn't trying to hide the graphic content involving gruesome videos and images related to death.

Another sold access to videos or images that were extremely graphic of people being brutally murdered, attacked, tortured, violated, etc., and also linked to other websites that offered underage pornographic content.

Another example is a website that was "selling" what first appeared to be car-washing liquid, but after digging deeper we found that it was actually the date-rape drug.

In all these cases, the accounts were immediately suspended and the information sent to the appropriate law enforcement.

What specific things give you a sense of pride?
As I've said before, once you see something you can't un-see it. However, you have to take it in stride. I know I do my job and we do our best to make the Internet a safer place.

How many people like you would it take to solve, or at least address, the problems you are addressing?
I belong to a team of dedicated staff that help me on a daily basis. While my job is unique and requires that I look at not the nicest things, I am pretty sure the websites we locate and report are only a portion of what is out there, as the internet is a vast environment.

Anything I'm missing that you think is significant?
Fortunately, even after a website has been on boarded to the Payza platform, Payza continues to monitor websites via a variety of methods which include secret shoppers, customer quality assurance calls, key word detections, and persistent website monitoring, etc.

We have seen cases where a website that was approached last month for something very mainstream became something illegal the month after. This is something we have to be vigilant for. We need to make sure we keep up with the ever-evolving methods that the criminals use.

 

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