The US Justice Department announced indictments today for 36 people accused of running a transnational ring stealing and selling credit card and personal identity data, causing Dollars 530 million in losses.
Known as the Infraud Organization, the enterprise aimed to be the Internet's premier destination for buying and selling stolen payment card data.
Investigators believe the group's almost 11,000 members targeted more than 4.3 million credit cards, debit cards and bank accounts worldwide, Deputy Assistant Attorney-General David Rybicki said.
According to a criminal indictment filed in Las Vegas and unsealed on Wednesday (7 February), the organisation was set up in October 2010 by a Ukranian national named Svyatoslav Bondarenko on the dark web.
He is alleged to operate a trusted "escrow" or currency exchanging service to ensure transactions between Infraud members, according to the Department of Justice. As of March 2017, there were 10,901 member accounts on the forum.
VIP members used the Infraud forum to allegedly gather information and to facilitate their criminal activities. "Infraud operated like a business to facilitate cyberfraud on a global scale".
Those arrested stand accused of multiple crimes including identity theft, bank fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.
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The site directed potential buyers to the automated vending sites of other members who possessed stolen financial, banking, or personal identification data, malware, or other illicit goods. Actual losses-which hit a wide swath of financial institutions, merchants, and private individuals-totaled more than $530 million.
Also Bondarenko remains at large, his Russian co-founder Sergey Medvedev has been arrested.
Prosecutors said 13 of the 36 people charged have been arrested in countries including the United States, the UK, Australia, France, Italy, Kosovo, and Serbia.
Infraud members had a defined hierarchy which included administrators, super moderators, moderators, vendors, VIP members and members.
According to the Justice Department, Medvedev took over as "admin and owner" of Infraud in April 2016 after posting a note online saying Bondarenko had gone missing.
Law enforcement has only arrested 13 of the members so far, five of which are from the United States and only one of which (Sergei Medvedev) is considered top brass.