Largest Cyber Sting in History Nabs 24 on Four Continents

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An international cyber sting led by the FBI attracted criminals from around the world and led to 24 arrests in what is believed to be a multi-million online financial fraud case, federal law enforcement officials said.

Eleven people were arrested in the United States, law enforcement officials said. The other arrests occurred in 13 countries on four continents.

Officials called the sting the largest coordinated international police action in history targeting cyber crime.

The cyber sting used a web site created by federal law enforcement officials as the spider web that lured in the alleged criminals. It was dubbed "Operation Card Shop," officials said.

The alleged fraudsters could buy and sell stolen credit card numbers, drivers licenses and bank information on the web site, as well as discuss general hacking techniques, officials said.

Agents then identified the suspects and then fanned out across four continents to make the arrests.

"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," said Janice Fedarcyk , the assistant director of the FBI in charge of the New York office. "Spanning four continents, the two-year undercover FBI investigation is the latest example of our commitment to rooting out rampant criminal behavior on the internet."

One of those nabbed was Joshua Hicks, a resident of The Bronx, N.Y.

Hicks allegedly joined the site created by federal investigators in October. He allegedly used the online nickname "OxideDox" and a Yahoo email address.

"I've been in the hacking scene for a while," he allegedly claimed. And he said that he stolen 800 credit cards from another Web site.

In online chats he allegedly told an undercover FBI agent that he would trade stolen credit card information for a digital camera or an iPad. And he allegedly agreed to sell 15 "dumps" of stolen credit card data for a camera and $250 in cash.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara and Fedarcyk said in a statement that the sting was "the largest coordinated international law enforcement action in history directed at 'carding' crimes – offenses in which the Internet is used to traffic in and exploit the stolen credit card, bank account, and other personal identification information of hundreds of thousands of victims globally."

Besides the 11 suspects arrested in the U.S., another 13 were taken into custody by foreign law enforcement officials.

In addition, the federal and local authorities, and authorities overseas conducted more than 30 subject interviews, and executed more than 30 search warrants.

Today's coordinated actions result from a two-year undercover operation led by the FBI that was designed to locate cybercriminals, investigate and expose them, and disrupt their activities.

"Hundreds of millions" of dollars in losses have been prevented and "hundreds of thousands" of credit card numbers have been protected, authorities said.

Bharara has called cybercrime one of the "greatest existential threats facing the United States."

In an opinion piece published in the New York Times Bharara wrote, "Some cybercrime is aimed directly at our national security, imperiling our infrastructure, government secrets and public safety. But as the recent wave of attacks by the hacker collective Anonymous demonstrates, it also targets private industry, threatening the security of our markets, our exchanges, our bank accounts, our trade secrets and our personal privacy."

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