You don’t have to navigate to sketchy websites to obtain stolen credit card information.
According to a new report, it’s surprisingly easy to find stolen credit card numbers, social security numbers, and other types of personal information through YouTube.
And Google has probably made more than $US1 billion from it, according to estimates.
The Digital Citizen’s Alliance Breach of Trust report, first spotted by Re/code, pointed out that ads for retailers such as Target sometimes run alongside illegal videos claiming to sell stolen credit card numbers and other private data.
In turn, Google makes revenue off these ads that run alongside video scams.
The Digital Citizen’s Alliance and state attorneys general have previously voiced concern over the fact that Google is actually making money from videos that claim to sell stolen information, which is why the Alliance plans to raise awareness with brands.
The alliance cited a report from Forbes in 2013 in which Harvard Business School Professor Ben Edelman estimated that Google has made more than $US1 billion from these “illegal activities” on YouTube.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt wrote a letter to Google officials last year requesting information regarding how many illegal videos were removed between Jan. 2011 and June 2013. In response, Google claimed that it makes “minimal” income from ads running along these videos claiming to sell illegal content, local Oklahoma City newspaper NewsOK reports.
Google typically takes these videos down from YouTube once the company finds them. However, Digital Citizens Alliance notes that these types of videos continue to resurface.
Here’s a sample from the Alliance’s report. Notice the ad for Target on the upper right-hand side.
A YouTube spokesperson offered the following comment to Business Insider:
Our Guidelines prohibit any content encouraging illegal activities, including videos promoting the sale of illegal goods. YouTube’s review teams respond to videos flagged for our attention around the clock, removing millions of videos each year that violate our policies. We also have stringent advertising guidelines, and work to prevent ads appearing against any video, channel or page once we determine that the content is not appropriate for our advertising partners
Some of the most popular search terms for illegal information on YouTube include “how to get credit card numbers that work 2014,” “buy CC numbers,” and “CC info with CVV,” the report says.
This isn’t the first time reports have indicated Google is benefiting from illegal activity. In August 2011, Google paid $US500 million following an investigation from the Department of Justice regarding ads offering to sell illegal pharmaceuticals, according to Forbes.
The Digital Citizen’s Alliance plans to educate brands about these practices, although the organisation doesn’t specify exactly how it intends to do that.