HACKERSVILLE

Reporter: David Richardson

In a police video, police crackdown on one of the biggest cyber crooks in history…in cities and villages scattered across Romania in Eastern Europe…

In these raids…more than 100 people were rounded up for scams worth hundreds of millions of dollars…

And among the victims…hundreds of Australians…15-thousand kilometres away…from here

Paul Hack was conned by a Romanian ebay scam…paying $600…for a product that didn't exist…

The perfect rip off…but he wasn't alone…

"It could be up to 50 people scammed like myself and it's easy to multiply that by the 600 dollars, the scam could've been $30,000 that they've just pulled up." Said Paul

Matt Waite is another Romanian ebay scam victim, offered another factitious product at a reduced price…

"Oh I lost $799 and it was for a fairly top of the range Bosch dishwasher." Said Matt

Romania has a massive problem that is hitting Australia and other parts of the world every day.…. Here cyber crime is a full time profession….

"Cyber crime in Romania is a serious problem. It's a big priority for the Romanian police. Because we see a huge increase in the cyber activities in Romania. " Said Chief Commissioner

He doesn't want to be identified…in fact no police in this country are willing to show their faces….

It's not from fear…but his on- going undercover operations to smash the rings…as crooks step up their internet cons…

"I think we see a movement in the last two years, a movement is that the criminals are interested more in big amounts of money. Not small amounts in more frauds. They are moving from targeting people for small amounts of money to cases where they are targeting companies or financial institutions where they can get data bases of big amounts of money." Said Chief Commissioner

A small outback city in Romania called rumnicu valcea…has been nicknamed "hackersville"… Nestled in the foothills of the Transylvanian alps…this city of 100-thousand people is one of the most important cyber- crime towns in the world…

It's dripping with wealth… more expensive cars than you would ever see in an Australian town of the same size…Mercedes…audi's…BMW's everywhere you look…

Rumnicu valcea has a western union or money wire service on almost every street corner….

Half a dozen casino's…to wash dirty money…. And dozens of expensive nightclubs for the nouveau riche to splash out…

Rumnicu valcea has become an international hub for organised internet crime gangs.

Everything from identity theft…bogus ebay car sales….skimming…. phony credit card rackets…

You name it….this place has got it…and we'll see it in Australia…"

"It's true. It's a place where these types of activities have increased in the last 5 to 10 years." Said Chief Commission

Romanian cyber law expert Bogdan Manolae believes organised crime is hiding cyber crimes behind other business fronts…

"Because it gets more and more complicated - people are also trying to hide their activities via what seem to be legitimate activities. Sometimes they are doing more crimes than one." Said Bogdan

Raids here target credit card fraud and E-bay scams primarily… Conmen selling fictitious cheap cars….white goods…i-pads… Taking money…and simply vanishing…

Or stealing identities from phony credit card rackets targeting Australians on the net…..

Our obsession with internet shopping has made Australians easy targets for Romanian shysters…

"Are they using those identities here or on-selling them through the criminal chain? Most of the time they are selling them on different forums on the internet and websites." Said Chief Commissioner

It means this town is almost every minute taking a royalty payment for an identity they just don't own…and have sold down the line… More than 40 million people worldwide have lost their identities.

"Oh its massive, I mean it's not quantifiable in an accurate sense so vast is the extensiveness of their pervasiveness, they're insidious tentacles, they reach into major organisations, businesses, no one really has an accurate idea of just what has occurred." Said Brian

Detective superintendent Brian hay is operations commander of the Queensland fraud and corporate crime group…working closely with his Romanian counterpart to catch cyber crooks…costing Australians dearly…

"And they have ripped us all for millions and you've got to understand that when they skim your ATM card and they take your plastic details, it's not just the fact that they can clean your account out of whatever cash you have at that point in time but they've got your identity and they'll sell that again, and they'll sell it again and they'll sell it again." Said Brian

A Romanian hacker showed a local television program here how easy it is to steal private information… Armed with a portable scanning device and a laptop…he goes into a major shopping centre and simply lifts people's information straight off their smart phones…even while they are doing their banking…

He has dozens and dozens of stolen bank accounts on his laptop…he can raid at his leisure…

Jilava prison…30 minutes from the capital Buchares is a prison made famous by the former ceaucescu communist regime for housing political prisoners…it's now home to fraudsters…and internet crooks..

Conmen like TUFA SORIN…who posed as an undercover policeman to get peoples credit and debit cards…then cloned them on a small skimming machine and raided their bank accounts

"By pretending I was doing a routine checkup I was telling them that I am here to protect them, prevent any crimes being made. I was advising them to be careful." Said Tufa

The Romanian fraudster targeted tourists …and is now serving 10 years behind bars.

Around the world….crack cyber teams are trying to outsmart the Romanian internet thieves…

So far it's been a losing battle… For every two who get arrested…another 20 are popping up to take their place …lured by the easy money.

But while cyber crooks may never be stopped - they can be hindered enough to make them find easier targets than Australia.

"Well you need to understand that to protect yourself in the cyber environment, it all starts with you, you've got to think about your behaviour, you've got to make sure that your system is secure, that it's up to date and you've got to make a conscious effort to reduce the chance that you're going to be falling victim to these criminals" Said Brian