In November 2011, this publication ran a story about an underground service called Superget.info, a fraudster-friendly site that marketed the ability to look up full Social Security numbers, birthdays, drivers license records and financial information on millions of Americans. Registration was free, and accounts were funded via WebMoney and other virtual currencies that are popular in the cybercriminal underground.
Each SSN search on Superget.info returned consumer records that were marked with a set of varying and mysterious two- and three-letter sourceid: identifiers, including TH, MV, and NCO, among others. I asked readers who may have a clue about the meaning or source of those abbreviations to contact me. In the weeks following that post, I heard from many readers who had guesses and ideas, but none who seemed to have conclusive information.
That changed in the past week. An individual who read a story about the operators of a similar ID theft service online having broken into the networks of LexisNexis and other major data brokers wrote to say that hed gone back and reviewed my previous stories on this topic, and that hed identified the source of the data being resold by Superget.info. The reader said the abbreviations matched data sets produced by Columbus, Ohio-based USInfoSearch.com.
Contacted about the readers claim, US Info Search CEO Marc Martin said the data sold by the ID theft service was not obtained directly through his company, but rather via Court Ventures, a third-party company with which US Info Search had previously struck an information sharing agreement. Martin said that several years ago US Info Search and CourtVentures each agreed to grant the other company complete access to its stores of information on US consumers.
Founded in 2001, Court Ventures described itself as a firm that aggregates, repackages and distributes public record data, obtained from over 1,400 state and county sources. Cached, historic copies of courtventures.com are available through archive.org.
THE ROLE OF EXPERIAN
In March 2012, Court Ventures was purchased by Costa Mesa, Calif.-based Experian, one of the three major consumer credit bureaus. According to Martin, the proprietors of Superget.info had gained access to Experians databases by posing as a US-based private investigator. In reality, Martin said, the individuals apparently responsible for running Superget.info were based in Vietnam.
Martin said he first learned of the ID theft service after hearing from a US Secret Service agent who called and said the law enforcement agency was investigating Experian and had obtained a grand jury subpoena against the company.