Authorities charge nearly 100 people in US, Egypt with ‘phishing’ identity theft scheme

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Nearly 100 charged in US, Egypt in ID theft scheme

LOS ANGELES — U.S. and Egyptian authorities have charged nearly 100 people with helping an identity theft ring steal money from thousands of bank accounts.

An FBI statement says an indictment unsealed Wednesday in Los Angeles charges more than 50 people in the United States with running the “phishing” scheme. Egyptian authorities have charged another 47. The FBI says it’s the largest number of defendants ever charged in a cybercrime case.

The indictment claims Egyptian hackers used e-mails to direct victims to phony bank Web sites, where they were asked to provide account numbers. Authorities say the crooks then raided their bank accounts.

The FBI says 33 people were arrested Wednesday morning, mostly in Southern California and in Nevada and North Carolina.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — U.S. and Egyptian authorities are arresting dozens of people to crack an identity theft ring that victimized thousands.

Laura Eimiller, an FBI spokeswoman in Los Angeles, says agents are making arrests Wednesday morning in Southern California, Nevada and North Carolina. She says about 100 arrests are expected in the United States and Egypt, many in the Los Angeles area.

An indictment accuses the ring of running a “phishing” scheme, using computer intrusion and fraud to obtain personal information allowing them to withdraw money from bank accounts.

In “phishing,” people answering an e-mail are directed to a bogus Web site and asked to update information such as passwords and account numbers.

Eimiller says victims may have lost a combined couple million dollars.

October 9, 2009: 2:07 pm

Cybergangs are the new multi-nationals, operating their criminal enterprises as if they were real, legit businesses, with formal management and business processes and even accounting departments. So while arresting 100 people might seem like a huge dent, it only scratches the surface. Hundreds more of these shadowy business-like entities remain with similar size and organization behind them. The indictment does illustrate how their organization makes cybercriminals a unique and difficult enemy, coordinated not just across borders, but across continents – a real global security issue. These arrests highlight the tip of iceberg, and they’ve shown how powerful collaboration is to commit crime. Business, government and law enforcement need to tear a page from the cybercriminals’ book, and start collaborating effectively to stop them.

Andre Edelbrock, CEO, Ethoca
leading the Global Fraud Alliance

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