The FBI aims to raise the profile of its new "Cyber Most Wanted" list with the addition of five international web fugitives and, to go with them, hundreds of thousands of dollars in reward money for information leading to their capture.
FBI spokesperson Jenny Shearer told ABC News that while the Bureau has chased suspected cyber criminals for years, this week marks the first appearance of the Cyber Most Wanted list - modeled after what she called "highly successful" versions like the decades-old FBI 10 Most Wanted and the more recent Most Wanted Terrorists lists.
"Cyber is a growing priority," she said. Shearer said the federal agency has used the other lists to great advantage for more "traditional" criminals, and now it's "just applying that model" to cyber suspects.
In an effort to grab the public's attention for the new initiative, Wednesday the FBI named five people - two Pakistanis, an El Salvadorian, a Syrian and a Latvian - as its newest additions. The biggest cash reward - $100,000 - goes for information leading to the arrest of the Latvian, Alexsey Belan, who stands accused of breaking into the networks of "three major United States-based e-commerce companies," stealing the customer databases and then selling that information on the black market.
Another of Cyber's Most Wanted, Carlos Enrique Perez-Melara, the El Salvadorian, is alleged to have started a website that provided spyware to people who believed their significant other was cheating on them. The spyware, called "Lover Spy" would trick the target into opening an e-card loaded with hidden malicious software. Once the target's computer was infected, the spyware would vacuum up every keystroke the user made and other data including passwords, website history and email messages, the FBI said. The program would then periodically email Perez-Melara's customers with the information.
In addition to the five new names, the list also contains the names of five other alleged cyber criminals who were previously wanted by the FBI. Shearer said that having a total of 10 cyber subjects on the list was coincidence and likely to change as more suspects are added.
To see Cyber's Most Wanted, CLICK HERE.