Wired Magazine published a fascinating article that explores how a small Romanian town has evolved to become an international center for cyber crime operations.
In Râmnicu Vâlcea, a remote village in the Southern Carpathian foothills, online predatory networks have brought a flood of new wealth to the once predominantly agrarian community.
Rolling pastures and livestock are contrasted with the presence of luxury automobiles lining the streets, and the quaint local architecture is punctuated by uber-modern glass and steel buildings more befitting a major metropolis.
The article paints the picture of a post-Soviet Iron Curtain economic success story, but the tragedy is that the region's success comes at great expense of others.
"Among law enforcement officials around the world, the city of 120,000 has a nickname: Hackerville. It’s something of a misnomer; the town is indeed full of online crooks, but only a small percentage of them are actual hackers. Most specialize in ecommerce scams and malware attacks on businesses."
"According to authorities, these schemes have brought tens of millions of dollars into the area over the past decade, fueling the development of new apartment buildings, nightclubs, and shopping centers. Râmnicu Vâlcea is a town whose business is cybercrime, and business is booming."
The article, by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, is a captivating exploration of the the darker side of the information technology boom, and is definitely worth a look.