24 arrested in international online 'carding' crackdown

Operation called the largest coordinated action against operations that traffic in stolen credit card, financial information

A total of 24 people from 13 countries, including 11 from the United States, were arrested on Tuesday on charges related to the theft and misuse of credit card data, bank account information and other financial data.

One other individual was arrested last night in New York as part of the same two year FBI undercover operation. The ages of those arrested in the U.S. ranged from 18 to 25.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York characterized the operation as the largest coordinated international law enforcement action against online "carding" operations that traffic in stolen credit card and financial information. Among those arrested on Tuesday were individuals from the United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Germany and Norway.

In a statement, the attorney's office said the undercover operation prevented more than 400,000 individuals from falling victim to cybercrime, and saved financial institutions from more than $205 millions in losses.

During the course of the investigation, the FBI notified 47 businesses, government organizations and education institutions of the breach of their network, the statement said.

The operation was launched in June 2010, when the FBI set up an undercover carding site called Carder Profit to ostensibly traffic in stolen credit cards. The site was configured to let the FBI monitor and record the activities and IP addresses of individuals who visited the site to sell, share or buy stolen payment card and financial data.

Access to the undercover site, which was taken offline in May this year, was restricted to registered members who were required to provide their email addresses and sometimes even pay a registration fee to access the site.

Among those arrested in the U.S. were an individual who allegedly offered a $50 remote access tool for stealing financial information from compromised computers, another who stole card data from a bank, a hotel and online retailers, and one who possessed information on more than 50,000 compromised credit and debit cards.

One of the alleged carders specialized in a so-called Apple call-in scheme, where he would use social engineering skills and stolen payment card data to try and fraudulently obtain replacement products from Apple, according to the attorney's office.

Each of the arrested individuals face charges that carry sentences ranging from 5 to 20 years in prison.

Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed. His e-mail address is jvijayan@computerworld.com.

See more by Jaikumar Vijayan on Computerworld.com.

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