WASHINGTON, July 25 (RIA Novosti) – US authorities on Thursday charged four Russian nationals and a Ukrainian man in connection with the theft of more than 100 million credit card numbers breaching the computer networks of major US and international corporations in what is being called the largest hacking scheme ever to be prosecuted in the United States.
“The losses in this case are staggering,” Paul Fishman, the US attorney for the district of New Jersey, told a news conference Thursday, The New York Times reported. “This type of crime is really the cutting edge of financial fraud.”
The five men stand accused of conspiring in a worldwide scheme that targeted major corporate networks, stole more than 160 million credit card numbers and resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in losses, Fishman’s office said in a statement Thursday.
They “conspired with others to penetrate the computer networks of several of the largest payment processing companies, retailers and financial institutions in the world, stealing the personal identifying information of individuals,” prosecutors said.
The crimes involved stealing the credit cards and selling them to resellers across the globe, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in losses to companies and individuals, “including losses in excess of $300 million by just three of the corporate victims, and immeasurable losses to identity theft victims,” prosecutors said in the statement.
Companies targeted by the group include NASDAQ, 7-Eleven, Carrefour, JCP, Hannaford, Heartland, Wet Seal, Commidea, Dexia, JetBlue, Dow Jones, Euronet, Visa Jordan, Global Payment, Diners Singapore and Ingenicard, according to prosecutors.
The Russian men indicted are Alexander Kalinin of St. Petersburg, Roman Kotov and Dmitry Smilianets of Moscow, and Vladimir Drinkman of Moscow and the city of Syktyvkar in northwestern Russia, according to Bloomberg. Mikhail Rytikov of Odessa, Ukraine, was also indicted in the case, prosecutors said.
Drinkman and Smilianets were arrested at the request of the United States while traveling in the Netherlands on June 28, 2012. Similianets was extradited last September and remains in federal custody, prosecutors said, while Drinkman remains in custody in the Netherlands pending an extradition hearing.
The other three suspects remain at large, prosecutors said.
The four Russian suspects have all been charged with unauthorized access to computers and wire fraud, all five have been charged with conspiracy to commit those crimes. Prosecutors said Rytikov provided anonymous web-hosting services allowing the hackers to obscure their activities.
Updated with comment from Fishman and details from the indictment and prosecutor’s statement.