FBI Charges Dozens in Cybercrime Bust

By Cindy Waxer September 30, 2010

United States federal and state officials have put an end to the cybercriminal activities of alleged computer hackers who used phony emails to obtain personal passwords and help themselves to more than $3 million from U.S. bank accounts. The international cybercrime ring is said to have involved computer hackers in Eastern Europe who joined forces with associates who then opened bank accounts in the U.S. to empty unsuspecting victims’ coffers.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office charged 37 individuals for allegedly using the malicious computer program called Zeus Trojan to hack into the bank accounts of U.S. businesses and municipal entities. 

The FBI reports that the Internet banking Trojan steals computer access data including usernames and passwords for bank accounts, email accounts and social-networking websites. A victim needed only to click on a link or open a file attached to a seemingly legitimate e-mail message for the program to gain immediate access to the computer. Once the program was engaged, computer hackers could secretly monitor the victim’s computer activity, enabling them to obtain bank account numbers, passwords and authentication information as the victim typed them into the infected computer, the FBI said. The scheme relied on individuals who were known as “money mules” in the United States to actually steal money, the FBI said. These mules usually kept about 8 to 10 percent of the stolen money for themselves before passing the rest along to other participants in the scheme.

According to a reportome of the defendants were charged in court papers unsealed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan with conspiracy to commit bank fraud for the invasion of dozens of victims’ accounts, according to federal and state prosecutors in New York. by the Associated Press, s

In a statement, District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said: “This advanced cybercrime ring is a disturbing example of organized crime in the 21st century – high tech and widespread. The 36 defendants indicted by our office stole from ordinary citizens and businesses using keyboards – not a gun. The far-reaching results of this investigation to date represent what people deserve: successful cooperation between city, state, federal and foreign law enforcement officials, who worked together for a common goal – to identify and prosecute individuals who commit fraud against New Yorkers and the rest of the nation.”

Edited by Erin Harrison

TechZone360 Contributing Editor

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