The FBI announced the dismantling of an international network that was dedicated to bank fraud via the Internet, classifying the scheme as «one of the biggest cybercrime cases ever investigated» by that police, several international media report.
According to the advanced information, the group is said to have embezzled $ 70 million (about € 51 million) from accounts of small businesses, city halls, churches and other victims located in the USA.
The scheme, which had been used «for several years», involved activities in several European countries and the use of about 3,500 «mules» in the United States – people whose bank accounts were used to deposit and transfer the amounts diverted to the «beneficiaries» «of the scheme, which were in Europe.
To seize the data that allowed them to get the money, cybercriminals sent emails to small businesses and city councils containing a program designed to corrupt the computer system: the Zeus Trojan.
The software registered the keys pressed by computer users, capturing data such as bank account numbers, passwords and other access codes.
After obtaining access data to the victims’ accounts, the amounts were transferred to other accounts, normally held by people residing in the USA on student visas, who were recruited to participate in the scheme. It was the observation of a pattern of bank transfers to sites based in Eastern countries that allowed the authorities to start following the group.
Following the investigation, which involved authorities from several countries, including the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, where 20 suspects were detained, and Ukraine (5 detainees). In total 92 suspects have been identified.
In an online statement, the FBI said it had also arrested 10 suspects and was looking for 17 others. The police also provide an illustrative chart of the scheme, which can be found here.