Authorities arrested 24 international hackers in a joint operation in 13 countries, pulling the plug on a series of â€œcardingâ€ crimes that could have caused over $250 million in losses. With 11 individuals from the U.S. and 13 from abroad, the two-year operation is considered a success, said the FBI.
Over 400,000 individuals could have been victimized from stolen credit cards credentials, said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Janice K. Fedarcyk. Although the underground economy of selling and buying such data has taken a serious blow, such practices could be reduced to a minimum with enough commitment from law enforcement agencies, she added.
â€œSpanning four continents, the two-year undercover FBI investigation is the latest example of our commitment to rooting out rampant criminal behavior on the Internet,â€ said Fedarcyk. â€œCyber crooks trade contraband and advance their schemes online with impunity, and they will only be stopped by law enforcementâ€™s continued vigilance and cooperation. Todayâ€™s arrests cause significant disruption to the underground economy and are a stark reminder that masked IP addresses and private forums are no sanctuary for criminals and are not beyond the reach of the FBI.â€
The 13 arrests abroad involve countries including the UK, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Norway, and Germany. One name that stands out is Mir Islam, a.k.a â€œJoshTheGod, who was found in possession of details from more than 50,000 credit cards. He was also associated with hacker group â€œUGNazi,â€ which claimed responsibility for a series of recent hacking attempts.
Charged with a broad spectrum of cyber schemes and scams, hackers distributed and sold thousands of pieces of private information and even offered hacking software solutions to cohorts. Coordinated actions in taking down such cyber-crime networks proves that individuals can be brought to justice even if they hide behind IP address and fake domains, said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
â€œThe allegations unsealed today chronicle a breathtaking spectrum of cyber schemes and scams. As described in the charging documents, individuals sold credit cards by the thousands and took the private information of untold numbers of people,â€ said Bharara. â€œTo expose and prosecute individuals like the alleged cyber criminals charged today will continue to require exactly the kind of coordinated response and international cooperation that made todayâ€™s arrests possible.â€