Feb. 18 - It's one of the poorest countries in Europe and Romania is also known as the capital of cyber crime. Americans are the main target and as Hayley Platt reports the epidemic has prompted action by the FBI.
It's not obvious but the town of Ramnicu Valcea is the global centre of a thriving illegal industry. It's in Romania which has become America's enemy number one when it comes to cyber theft. Large groups of criminal hackers have been targeting unsuspecting online shoppers. And Romanian police say four out of five of the victims are American. (SOUNDBITE) (Romanian) POLICE OFFICER, RESPONSIBLE FOR THE INVESTIGATION OF CYBER CRIMES [UNRECOGNISABLE AND VOICE DISTORTED AT HIS OWN REQUEST], SAYING: "The reason why this area is known as the cyber crime capital is because, the necessary technical requirement for this kind of crime is very low. There have been some people in the past who have managed to extract some money, which probably attracted others to this 'miracle' zone." Romania is one of Europe's poorest countries. Yet in this small town just outside Bucharest, there are plenty of expensive cars. Local IT director Valerica Rascu says it doesn't add up. (SOUNDBITE) (Romanian) DIRECTOR VALERICA RASCU SAYING: "When you enter a town like Dragasani for instance, only some 50 kilometres away from Ramnicu Valcea where the industry is in decline, where people find it hard to find work, you realise there is an obvious contradiction to what you see on the streets. A lot of new cars which have nothing to do with the town's economy." These students are training to work in legitimate IT jobs. But some understand the temptations. Well paid jobs are hard to find. And one in four of Romania's 20 million population is under the age of 25. (SOUNDBITE) (Romanian) STUDENT PETRUT (SURNAME NOT GIVEN), SAYING: "Students start to work with IT programs as early as grade 9. And everybody who's learnt to program can easily hack any account. The hackers usually come from dysfunctional families or from homes where parents have left the country to work abroad. The relatives they are left with can't control them." Romanian police say they make around 100 cyber crime arrests every year. But that's only the tip-of-the iceberg. U.S. officials say the FBI has been trying to help. It's trained six hundred Romanian investigators in an attempt to treat the epidemic.