Two well-known hacking groups, Anonymous and Team Poison, are looking to spread some holiday cheer with a scheme called "Operation Robin Hood." The plan involves racking up fraudulent credit card charges to donate money and goods to charities and Occupy protests nationwide. Here's what you should know:
Who are these hackers?
The shadowy Anonymous hacking collective has gained notoriety for targeting everything from the Westboro Baptist Church to the Tea Party to underground child pornography rings. Team Poison — a group that has teamed with Anonymous before — recently hacked the United Nations and posted sensitive log-in data online. The two groups are dubbing their collaboration "Poisanon."
And what are they trying to do?
The goal is to "return money to those who have been cheated by our system and, most importantly, to those hurt by banks," the hackers said in a YouTube video. "Operation Robin Hood" would involve stealing credit card data, and then using those cards to make payments to and buy goods for the 99 percent. Hackers might also try laundering the money through PayPal so it's harder to trace. Poisanon say they've already breached the systems of Chase, Bank of America, and Citibank, but those claims have yet to be confirmed.
Wait a minute. Won't this hurt credit card holders?
The hackers are hoping that banks will reimburse the victims of credit card fraud, says Lucian Constantin at PC World. Of course, that plan could backfire. The banks might not have to reimburse fraud victims "because the laws regulating fraud liability vary around the world." In some cases, banks may even be able to reclaim their money. For example, if the hackers "use the stolen credit card information to buy blankets for Occupy Wall Street protesters," merchants could be hit with chargeback fees if they failed to follow the rules — like asking buyers for proper ID.