U.S. charges 24 people in massive hacking sting
By Basil Katz
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. law enforcement officials on Tuesday said 24 suspected hackers had been arrested in a sting operation spanning four continents that targeted online financial fraud of stolen credit card and bank information.
In a two-year investigation, FBI agents posed as hackers on Internet forums, watching as other hackers swapped methods for breaching data security walls and creating fake credit cards that would work for Internet and in-person purchases.
The probe prevented $205 million in possible losses on over 411,000 compromised consumer credit and debit cards, U.S. authorities in New York said.
Eleven people were arrested in the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office said. The thirteen others were arrested in countries from Britain to Japan, the authorities said. Officials in Australia also conducted searches.
"Clever computer criminals operating behind the supposed veil of the Internet are still subject to the long arm of the law," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.
During the operation, the FBI said, it not only monitored the hackers' activities but also contacted "multiple" people and institutions hit by the hackers and showed them how to repair their security breaches and protect themselves in the future.
No credit card companies or banks were named in Tuesday's court documents.
The 24 people arrested were all men aged 18 to 25. Some face up to 40 years or more in prison if convicted on conspiracy to commit wire fraud charges and access device fraud charges. Continued...