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Online credit card scam suspects arrested in global effort

FBI says a two-year investigation has led to the arrests this week of 24 people suspected of credit card-related crimes, which often involve computer hackers.

June 27, 2012|By David Sarno, Los Angeles Times

U.S. and international law enforcement officials arrested dozens of suspects around the world in what they called the largest ever such action against online credit card scammers.

The FBI said that the two-year investigation resulted in the arrests this week of 24 people suspected of crimes related to theft, sale and illicit use of credit card information. The FBI said that these "carding" crimes often include hackers stealing credit card data from bank and retail databases and selling the information to Internet fraudsters and counterfeiters.

Investigators uncovered 411,000 compromised credit and debit card numbers, they said, adding that they believed the bust prevented economic losses of more than $200 million.

"Hackers and fraudsters cannot count on being able to prowl the Internet in anonymity and with impunity, even across national boundaries," Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement. "Clever computer criminals operating behind the supposed veil of the Internet are still subject to the long arm of the law."

The report reads like a book report on a cyber-mystery novel, with colorful hacker names including "xVisceral," "zer0" and "JoshTheGod" selling their underground digital wares and spying on unwitting civilians.

One of the alleged hackers the report described, 21-year-old Michael Hogue, was said to have apparently created a piece of malicious software called "Hogue's Rat," which "enabled the user to turn on the Web camera on victims' computers and spy on them, and to record every keystroke of the victim-computer's user."

"Hogue sold his Rat widely over the Internet, usually for $50 per copy and boasted that he had personally infected '50-100' computers with his Rat," the report said.

With this and other types of cyber-surveillance techniques, the suspects allegedly "sold credit cards by the thousands and took the private information of untold numbers of people."

The case is being handled by the Complex Frauds unit of the U.S. attorney's officein New York.

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