Two-dozen people were arrested in 13
countries on June 26, following a two-year undercover FBI investigation into an
international credit card fraud ring affecting hundreds of thousands of
victims, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Dubbed “Operation Card Shop,” the
undercover operation targeted all aspects of the credit card fraud, or
“carder,” operation—from malware developers to credit card data
traffickers, from money mules to providers of mail services that accept stolen
goods. In total, the credit card fraud operation affected as many as 400,000
victims, and may have prevented tens of millions of dollars in additional
losses, according to the DOJ.
“As the cyber-threat grows more
international, the response must be increasingly global and forceful,”
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New
York, said in a statement. “The coordinated law-enforcement actions taken
by an unprecedented number of countries around the world today demonstrate that
hackers and fraudsters cannot count on being able to prowl the Internet in
anonymity and with impunity, even across national boundaries.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and
international law-enforcement agencies arrested dozens of suspects in the United
States, United Kingdom, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Italy, Japan, Norway and Germany. In
addition, police in Australia, Canada, Denmark and Macedonia conducted
interviews and executed search warrants. The arrests made the operation
“the largest coordinated international law-enforcement action in history
directed at” online credit card thieves and fraudsters, said Bharara.
While past undercover operations have shown
that the FBI has the depth of skills to pursue online thieves, criminals
hacking across national borders have always posed jurisdictional issues for
investigators. Operation Card Shop shows that the United States and other
countries are making progress in tackling the difficulties, says Angel Grant,
senior manager of anti-fraud solutions at security-solutions provider RSA.
“It really shows how international
coordination and working together in the investigations and arrests can really
help capture fraudsters,” said Grant. “Traditionally, in the past, we
have not seen as strong an international or cross-organizational collaboration
in either the public or private sectors.”
“Carding” consists of a variety of
criminal activities organized around stealing personal and financial
information, including credit and debit cards, and using that information to
purchase goods or steal money directly. Money mules help launder the goods or
money and send a percentage back to the leaders of the organization. In June
2010, the FBI embarked on an undercover operation, creating a forum known as
“Carder Profit,” where members of the criminal underground could
discuss carder techniques and buy and sell stolen information.
The FBI investigated the alleged criminal
activity and used information gleaned from the site to warn 47 companies of
breaches of their networks.