Credit Card Fraud and Porn

Joseph M. Reagle Jr. (
Fri, 07 Nov 1997 15:54:16 -0500

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Date: Fri, 07 Nov 1997 15:53:08 -0500
From: Nerdd Boy <reagle@MIT.EDU>
Subject: Credit Card Fraud and Porn

Hi Mike, I'm a researcher at MIT, and I tend to get lots of calls from the
press. I got an unusual inquiry recently from a press person who said that
some woman told her that she had ordered a video for her son from a company
called PIMPIN [2], and that someone sent her an email saying they had her
credit card number, and when her minor son went to look at the web page [1],
that there was hardcore pornography (maybe even child porn) on it. I work on
issues related to security, crypto, commerce, privacy, and content control
(obscenity) in my role as a policy analyst and thought, wow!, this story has
got it all! <smile>

However, the reporter isn't at all tech savy, and I like to provide them
with accurate information if I can (since I'm in the position now-a-days, I
always cringe at bad Net stories.) So I said I'd look into it.

My current understanding, and what I told the reporter was that:

I have a fax of a fax of the email you sent, and it looks as if a web
crawler stumbled upon a number of order forms at PIMPIN? "We're not sure
how, but our computer picked up the ORDERS file from PIMPIN." The PIMPIN
site does allow for Netscape Navigator SSL, but I'm assuming you didn't
break it, or you weren't snooping the net or intercepting emails. Somehow
your crawler got it.

BTW: I called the number on your email and got a weird answering machine
message (without context it is confusing) and PIMPIN's numbers are
disconnected and out of service.

On the pornography side, the reporter later told me that there was no child
porn, rather it was the women's son for whom she had bought the tape that
saw the site, so it was a child seeing porn. Looking at your page, I could
see why a parent would be concerned. However, my guess is that there isn't a
link between obscenity, a child porn ring and credit card fraud. (I can
imagine the story now! There is an active under 18 only JO java-script chat
session 3 or 4 links from your page.)

Let me know if I got anything wrong, and I'll try to further clarify things
for the reporter.


Joseph Reagle E0 D5 B2 05 B6 12 DA 65 BE 4D E3 C1 6A 66 25 4E independent research account
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Joseph Reagle Jr. W3C:
Policy Analyst Personal: