US authorities have charged 36 people after they bust an international cybercrime ring that pilfered $530 million through identity fraud and malware.
The justice department yesterday announced the racketeering conspiracy along with the arrest of 13 people, eight of whom would be extradited from Australia, the UK, France, Italy, Kosovo and Serbia. Five members of the group, called the Infraud Organization, were arrested in the US.
''Today's indictment and arrests mark one of the largest cyber-fraud enterprise prosecutions ever undertaken by the Department of Justice,'' said acting assistant attorney general John Cronan. ''Infraud operated like a business to facilitate cyberfraud on a global scale.''
According to prosecutors, the group was created in October 2010 by Svyatoslav Bondarenko, a Ukranian who sought to create ''the premier destination'' for purchasing retail items on the internet with counterfeit or stolen credit-card information. The case was unveiled in Nevada.
The members of the group were directed to ''vending'' websites serving as conduits to traffic in stolen identities and banking information along with malware and other stolen illicit goods, prosecutors said.
The group also provided an escrow service to facilitate digital currency transactions among its members, according to the government.
The cyber crime network, which operated as an online discussion forum, ran a sophisticated scheme that facilitated the purchase and sale of Social Security numbers, birthdays and passwords that had been stolen from around the world, according to the department.
Of the 36 people indicted, according to justice department officials,13 were arrested in the US, Australia, the UK, France, Italy, Kosovo and Serbia.
They have been charged with identity theft, bank fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.
''Today marks a significant step in the battle against transnational cyber crime,'' deputy assistant attorney general David Rybicki told reporters on a conference call.