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FBI busts 24 in massive international online financial crime takedown

FBI says two-year sting protected more than 400,000 potential victims and prevented losses of around $205 million.

By Layer 8 on Tue, 06/26/12 - 4:38pm.

The FBI today said it directed what it called the largest coordinated international law enforcement action in its history directed at online "carding" crimes typically involving stolen credit card, bank account or personal identification information of hundreds of thousands of victims around the world.

The FBI said the allegations unsealed in New York today "chronicle a breathtaking spectrum of cyber schemes and scams."  As charged, the FBI said the individuals sold credit cards by the thousands and took the private information of untold numbers of people. The defendants casually offered every stripe of malware and virus to fellow fraudsters, even including software-enabling cyber voyeurs to hijack an unsuspecting consumer's personal computer camera, the FBI stated.

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According to the FBI, the coordinated sting operation-involved  13 countries, including the United States ad resulted in 24 arrests, including the domestic arrests of 11 individuals by federal and local authorities in the United States, and the arrests of 13 individuals abroad by foreign law enforcement in seven countries. In addition, the federal and local authorities and authorities overseas today conducted more than 30 interviews and executed more than 30 search warrants.  The operations was the culmination of a  two-year undercover operation led by the FBI that was designed to locate cybercriminals, investigate and expose them, and disrupt their activities.

"Today'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," said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Janice K. Fedarcyk in a statement.  "From New York to Norway and Japan to Australia, Operation Card Shop targeted sophisticated, highly organized cyber criminals involved in buying and selling stolen identities, exploited credit cards, counterfeit documents, and sophisticated hacking tools."

The FBI said it hoped the operation would put more than a dent in carding schemes and carding forum around the world. Carding forums are websites used by criminals engaged in carding to facilitate their criminal activity. Carders use carding forums to, among other things, exchange information related to carding, such as information concerning hacking methods or computer-security vulnerabilities that could be used to obtain personal identification information; and to buy and sell goods and services related to carding-for example, stolen credit or debit card account numbers, hardware for creating counterfeit credit or debit cards, or goods bought with compromised credit card or debit card accounts, the FBI stated.

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By way of background, the FBI said in June 2010, the agency set up an undercover carding forum called "Carder Profit" (the "UC Site"), that let users  discuss various topics related to carding and to communicate offers to buy, sell, and exchange goods and services related to carding, among other things.