Twenty-Four Arrested in FBI Credit Card Hacking Sting
On June 26, 2012, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the FBI jointly announced the arrest of 11 persons in the U.S., and 13 abroad, in connection with an international investigation into credit card theft led by the FBI. The government also unsealed charges against four additional defendants who remain at large.
In the first-of-its-kind investigation, dubbed “Operation Card Shop,” the FBI created the fake online forum “carderprofit.cc” to attract criminals who engage in “carding” (stealing and trafficking credit or debit card numbers, bank account information, and other personal identification information on the internet). The decoy site was used by the FBI to monitor and record private messages and identify users’ IP and email addresses. To avoid constitutional and statutory obstacles, the site’s registration process required users to consent to certain terms and conditions, including the monitoring of their activities on the site for any purpose, according to the Washington Post.
After operating the site for nearly two years, the FBI teamed with local authorities and law enforcement in 12 foreign countries to track down “carders,” executing more than 30 warrants seeking access to email accounts and ISP information related to IP addresses. In some cases, undercover agents purchased stolen information from suspects. Federal charges against the defendants in the Southern District of New York include wire fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1343), access device fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1029(a)(2)), fraud in connection with identification information (18 U.S.C. § 1028(a)(7)), aggravated identity theft (18 U.S.C. § 1028A), and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, access device fraud, and computer hacking. Copies of the criminal complaints are available through the U.S. Attorney’s website.