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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Dozens charged in multimillion-dollar cyber theft scheme

    LOS ANGELES — More than 50 people have been charged in international schemes that used computer viruses to steal millions of dollars from bank accounts in the United States and England, state and federal prosecutors said Thursday in New York.

    “”The modern, high-tech bank heist does not require a gun, a mask, a note or a getaway car,”” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “”It requires only the Internet and ingenuity. And it can be accomplished in the blink of an eye, with just a click of the mouse.””

    The cyber attacks began in Eastern Europe and included malware known as the “”Zeus Trojan,”” which was typically sent as an e-mail to computers at small businesses and offices in the United States. Once the e-mail was opened, the virus embedded itself in the victims’ computers, recording their keystrokes and capturing user names and passwords as they logged into online bank accounts.

    The hackers then used the stolen account information to take over the victims’ bank accounts and make unauthorized transfers of thousands of dollars at a time to bank accounts controlled by other participants in the schemes, federal and New York state authorities said in a news release.

    Twenty suspects have been arrested so far in the United States, and an additional 17 were still being sought Thursday. On Tuesday, authorities in London arrested 19 people suspected of being involved in the crimes.

    The schemes relied on “”mules”” who set up U.S. bank accounts to receive wire transfers and then make cash withdrawals.

    “”This advanced cyber crime ring is a disturbing example of organized crime in the 21st century — high tech and widespread,”” said New York County District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.

    Janice K. Fedarcyk, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York office, said: “”The Zeus Trojan allegedly allowed the hackers, from thousands of miles away, to get their hands on other people’s money — with far less exertion than a safecracker or bank robber.””

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