It took two years of investigating and the involvement of Egypt authorities, but the FBI has reached its goal: 100 people have been finally charged for their participation in a multinational phishing operation.
53 of these people find themselves on U.S. soil, while the remaining 47 are in Egypt. Of those 53, only 33 have been arrested so far, while the FBI continues the search for the others. The U.S. defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, and they face up to 20 years of imprisonment.
Information Week reports that the operation “Phish Phry” (as the investigation has been dubbed) started in 2007.
The FBI claims that the phishers’ modus operandi was the following: hackers in Egypt would gather personal information and banking details from the victims and pass them on to their U.S. comrades. The latter would then use the stolen credentials to access the accounts, steal the money and send part of it to their associates in Egypt.
FBI’s assistant director in LA, Keith Bolcar, had this to say in a statement for the press: “The sophistication with which Phish Phry defendants operated represents an evolving and troubling paradigm in the way identity theft is now committed. Criminally savvy groups recruit here and abroad to pool tactics and skills necessary to commit organized theft facilitated by the computer, including hacking, fraud and identity theft, with a common greed and shared willingness to victimize Americans.”
In order to learn more about how to spot phishing, you can take this quiz.