Picture of hacking via elhombredenegro/Flickr
Prosecutors have charged four Russians and one Ukrainian man in what US Attorney Paul Fishman called the “largest hacking and data breach scheme ever prosecuted in the United States.”
At an announcement Thursday in Newark, Fishman said the hackers were "the cutting edge" of cyber crimes.
"Those who have the expertise and the inclination to break into our computer networks threaten our economic well-being, our privacy, and our national security." he said. "And this case shows, there is a real practical cost because these types of frauds increase the costs of doing business for every American consumer, every day.”
See, even though financial insitutions have to take the hit when credit card numbers are stolen, thanks to consumer protection laws, they'll eventually pass the cost onto their customers anyway. But it's nice of the prosecution to think us.
According to the AP, the hackers are charged with running a cyber-heist organization since 2005, which, “penetrated computer networks of more than a dozen major American and international corporations over seven years, stealing and selling at least 160 million credit and debit card numbers, resulting in losses of hundreds of millions of dollars.”
The hacked companies include Nasdaq; 7-Eleven Inc.; JCPenney Co Hannaford Brothers Co. supermarket chain; JetBlue; Dow Jones; Heartland Payment Systems Inc., one of the world's largest credit and debit processing companies, French retailer Carrefour S.A., and Dexia Bank Belgium. The losses to those companies add up to $300 million.
The hackers are alleged to have stolen 160 million credit and debit card numbers, which they in turn sold to “cashers.” The cashers would then put the numbers onto magnetic strips on plastic cards, which could be used in ATMs. The indictment says they would sell off American cards for $10, Canadian numbers for $15 and European cards for $50, according to the indictment.
One defendant, the former esports team owner, Dmitri Smilianets, is already in US custody. His lawyer Bruce Provda said Smilianets was arrested while sight-seeing in America, and he is likely to appear in a New Jersey federal court as soon as next week. Another defendant, Vladamir Drinkman, is being held by authorities in the Netherlands, awaiting extradition to the US. The whereabouts of the other hackers remain unspoken and unknown.