An FBI sting operation lead to the arrest of 24 people involved in computer crime across the globe, according to an article from The New York Times.
On Tuesday, after a two-year undercover operation, authorities in 13 countries arrested the two dozen people as part of Operation Card Shop – an unusually broad and significant step in combating credit card fraud, which has recently grown more sophisticated, the article says.
Hackers have become increasingly successful recently in obtaining credit card information and other personal data, sharing it on secure websites, often on overseas servers. Last year, hackers in Eastern Europe obtained the names, account numbers, e-mail addresses and transaction histories of more than 200,000 Citibank customers, the article says.
The online forum, one law enforcement official said, was “like a restricted eBay,” open only to people who had a reputation and who had been vouched for by someone on the site. Besides the financial data, hacking tips, malware, spyware and access to stolen goods, like iPads and iPhones, were also possible on the site, the official said in the article.
Federal officials maintained that the sting operation prevented potential losses of more than $200 million, according to the New York Times. Credit card providers were notified of more than 400,000 compromised credit and debit cards, the officials said.
Many of the 11 individuals arrested in the United States offered specialized skills and products on the sting site. One, who used the screen name xVisceral, offered remote access tools known as RATS that would spy on computers and Web cameras; the programs sold for $50 a copy, the article says.
Another, Mir Islam, known as JoshTheGod, sold stolen credit card information and had data on 50,000 credit card accounts, according to the United States attorney for the Southern District. He was arrested after buying cards from an undercover agent and trying to use one at an ATM on Eighth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.
Mr. Islam is accused of helping to operate additional forums, UGNazi.com and Carders.org, both of which were seized by the FBI, the article says.
Two individuals were arrested in New York, nine elsewhere in the United States and 13 in a dozen other countries, according to an FBI spokeswoman.
In addition to arresting purveyors of stolen credit card information, authorities also aimed to trap people who created fake credit cards. The information included credit card numbers, addresses, Social security numbers, mothers’ maiden names and details of bank accounts, the New York Times reports.
In addition to luring hackers onto the site, federal authorities also monitored the discussion threads that sprang up, as specialized hackers sold their wares, the article says. The site was created in June 2010 and shut last month.
“They didn’t just take down one kid and a Web site,” said Dave Marcus, director of advanced research and threat intelligence at McAfee, a major provider of computer security software. “They took down a very organized group of people.”