Carding forum

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Carding forum
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Carding forum is a forum that specialized in the trade of stolen credit card data, as well as identity theft. The most famous example is Tor Carding Forum (TCF). It was based on TOR software that enabled anonymous communication in the internet. It was closed in 2014 and then revived as Tor Carding Forum V2 in 2015. Then closed again.[1]

During the following years many similar forums were created. Peretti K.K mentions other such forums in the article, for example: The Carderplanet organization, The International Association for the Advancement of Criminal Activity (IAACA), The Cardersmarket organization, The CCpowerForums organization[2]. They are in surveillance of legal authorities which strive for finding their owners and putting them to justice. Usually the forums are located in distant countries that have no extradition agreements with USA or European Union. Use of that kind of forums is illegal and can be penalized[3].

Fig.1. Transaction cost mitigation by carding forums (Source: based on Yip, M., Webber, C., and Shadbolt, N., 2013

Operation of carding forum

The personal data of bank customers have been transformed from the printed version into a digital form in recent years. The problem is that all data is in one place and the leak of such financial data, personal data and data on bank accounts causes significant damage to customers who have cards. This data is breached by special persons (carders) who collect information about these cards and use these cards. They use a special computer program to acquire this data. The online underground economy enables cyber carding crime to distribute stolen information. Carders are very important to cyber crime, because they use services and special tools to accomplish the stages of this crime. They sell their services in carding forums using ads and offers. Their services are rated by clients and this ratings help people involved in testing of this type of crime[4].

Socio-economic mechanisms

Yip M., Webber C., Shadbolt N think that forums offer four essential socio-economic mechanisms which collectively expedite online underground trading[5]:

  • Social networking
  • Coordination and formal control
  • Quality insecurity mitigation
  • Identity insecurity mitigation

Social networking

Criminal capital is the basis for cybercriminals' success, so they must trade with other cybercriminals. They use carding forum because this forum facilitates them contact with other criminals in their industry. These contacts allow criminals to acquire various information, skills and reserves that are needed for criminal purposes[6].

Coordination and formal control

For organizations that have high coordination requirements, the hierarchical structure is the best because the pure market structure has higher coordination costs. The underground economy has a hierarchical structure because it has high coordination requirements. The boundaries of the networks that the carding forums offer and the hierarchical structure help cybercriminals to introduce management system for regulating and monitoring behavior on this market[7].

Quality insecurity mitigation

Cybercriminals are not sure about the quality of services and goods from unknown suppliers, because many rippers trade in the internet. They trade unfair using different methods. Cybercriminals use carding forums because these forums reduce this uncertainty because the hierarchical management structure checks suppliers[8] .

Identity insecurity mitigation

In the internet everyone is anonymous so cybercriminals are not sure if the person they trade with is trustworthy. The Shadowcrew bring down because it turned out that a potential trading partner was a co-worker of law enforcement agencies. Forums allow getting a lot of information about vendors because there are posts and threads based on which you can check the interaction of this supplier with the community. If the behavior of some traders seems to be incompatible with the standards of the community this is suspicious[9].

Management hierarchy of carding forum

Yip M., Webber C., Shadbolt N think that management hierarchy in this forum is consist of[10]:

  • "Administrators
  • Moderators
  • Rewievers
  • Reviewed vendors
  • Members"[11]


They manage the forum and make strategic decisions for a long period of time. They reward or punish members of this forum if it is necessary and protect the carding forum from rippers by removing their[12].


Moderators are in this hierarchy under the administrators. They manage the sub-forums and set post rules and remove inappropriate posts[13].


They are under moderators in this hierarchy. They test illegal services and goods from potential traders. They are involved in an important part of this mechanism, because they have to trust the vendors and these potential traders have to trust the reviewers[14].

Reviewed vendors

They are under reviewers in this hierarchy. They are vendors who have gained the trust of reviewers. Each of them has its own special username. They seldom modify their user names because they are recognized through them[15].


They are under reviewerd vendors in this hierarchy. They are ordinary members who sell services and goods but they don't have reputation. However, trading with them is associated with greater risk[16].



  1. Li W., Chen H. (2014)
  2. Peretti K.K. (2008)
  3. Li W., Chen H. (2014)
  4. Li W., Chen H. (2014)
  5. Yip M., Webber C., Shadbolt N. (2013)
  6. Yip M., Webber C., Shadbolt N. (2013)
  7. Yip M., Webber C., Shadbolt N. (2013)
  8. Yip M., Webber C., Shadbolt N. (2013)
  9. Yip M., Webber C., Shadbolt N. (2013)
  10. Yip M., Webber C., Shadbolt N. (2013)
  11. Yip M., Webber C., Shadbolt N. (2013)
  12. Yip M., Webber C., Shadbolt N. (2013)
  13. Yip M., Webber C., Shadbolt N. (2013)
  14. Yip M., Webber C., Shadbolt N. (2013)
  15. Yip M., Webber C., Shadbolt N. (2013)
  16. Yip M., Webber C., Shadbolt N. (2013)

Author: Joanna Zawiślan