When we think of hacking and major data breaches, the first thing that comes to mind is the loss of sensitive personal identifiable information, such as social security numbers, bank account numbers, drivers license numbers etc.  However, we have now seen that an unlimited amount of damage can be done by hackers who only target your contact information, such as email address, phone number & mailing address.  Back in 2012,  JPMorgan Chase reported that it had suffered a major data breach of it’s customer database, compromising over 83 million customer records.  It’s just come to light that the hackers targeted only the contact information specific JPMorgan Chase accounts.  They went after these accounts because of the personal habits and profiles of the account owners ,which consisted of individuals who traded stock regularly, frequented online casinos and used the digital currency Bitcoin.  The hackers knew they could exploit other accounts of these JPMorgan Chase clients, once they stole simply their contact information.  This is a unique event that hasn’t been seen in the hacking world until now.

According to the report, the three men and their criminal organization specifically targeted institutions that attracted particular customer profiles, namely customers who were likely to buy and sell stocks or participate in online gambling. Through some very effective email marketing and promotional tactics, the defendants successfully developed a massive contact list of potential victims to defraud. Once they had obtained the list, the defendants ran some fairly basic cons that, until now, had never been accomplished at the cyber level.  Read more about this event here. 

One of the trio’s most effective scheme is one common to fraudulent stock trading practices, better known as a “pump-and-dump” scheme. Essentially, the trio purchased several penny stocks, which are stocks that are valued at less than one dollar (USD). They then used their email list to encourage potential marks to purchase these stocks as a way to inflate the price; the stocks’ inherent value did not necessarily increase, but because potentially millions of people were investing in them, the increased demand forced the price upward. When the stock price had reached a certain level, the trio then sold their shares of the stocks, making massive amounts of profit as a result. Their contacts, meanwhile, were left with near-valueless penny stocks for which they had overpaid.  See more of the scams these hackers pulled off in this article.