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FBI nabs suspected identity-theft ring
Published: 2006-11-03

Law enforcement officers arrested at least three people in the United States and another 13 in Poland on charges of cooperating to steal identity and financial information, the FBI said on Friday in statements.

The arrests stem from an investigation, dubbed Operation Cardkeeper, that started after the FBI received complaints of phishing attacks against a major financial institution in 2004. Investigators quickly discovered that much of the information gained from the phishing attacks ended up in an online marketplace for such data, where U.S. and international data thieves met and traded, the FBI said in a statement sent to SecurityFocus.

The investigation is part of a worldwide initiative to improve cooperation among law enforcement in order to remove jurisdictional issues in chasing cyber criminals across borders, said James E. Finch, assistant director of the FBI's Cyber Division. More than 20 FBI field offices and eight legal attaché offices took part in the investigation.

"We are sharing evidence and using sophisticated techniques like never before," Finch said in a statement sent to SecurityFocus. "Cyber criminals will no longer be able to hide behind borders to conduct their illicit business. There will be no safe haven for cybercrime."

Law enforcement has kept up a steady stream of arrests of suspected online criminals, but many security researchers question whether the arrests are yet having an effect. In August, a man accused of spreading bot software that disrupted operations at a Seattle-area hospital was sentenced to more than three years in prison for the crime. In April, authorities arrested a Czech man and charged him with acting as a middle man, or "mule," for an online identity theft ring. And in March, the U.S. Secret Service arrested seven people and charged them in connection with a massive debit-fraud ring.

On Friday, the FBI expects that 16 arrests and 15 searches will be executed as part of Operation Cardkeeper. Three of the search warrants are expected to be issued for residences in Romania. Among those arrested as part of the investigation is a San Diego-based credit-card fraudster who uses the name "John Dillinger," a Wired News report stated.

Posted by: Robert Lemos
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