Tuesday, April 06, 2010

70 Romanian Phishers & Fraudsters Arrested

On March 4th, FBI Director Robert Mueller was given a speech on Cybercrime to the RSA conference where he mentioned that:
And we have worked with the Romanian National Police to arrest more than 100 Romanian nationals in the past 18 months. Four years ago, several American companies threatened to cut cyber ties with Romania because of the rampant hacking originating from that country. And yet today, Romania is one of our strongest partners.

Hotnews.ro followed this up with a 7 minute interview from March 9, 2010 with FBI Legal Attache Gary Dickson who is the liaison between the FBI and Romanian cyber police. He states in the interview that Romanian cyber criminals steal "hundreds of millions of dollars" from Americans each year.

(click to play interview in YouTube)

When asked what the main type of crime was that Romanians committed against Americans, Dickson said it was primarily Auction fraud - where they sold imaginary goods to Americans.

There is good news on that front today from Romania!

On Tuesday, April 6, 2010, the Romanian Police released the news of a police raid organized by the prosecutors at D.I.I.C.O.T. - the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism - had arrested 70 members of three separate organized cyber crime groups.

DIICOT Press Release

Since 2006 these groups have stolen funds from citizens of Spain, Italy, France, New Zealand, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Austria, the United States, Canada, and Switzerland - primarily through online auction fraud. International authorities have identified more than 800 victims with more than 800,000 Euros worth of losses.

300 gendarmes and 400 policemen, including 260 members of the Special Investigations Brigade of the Gendarme participated in the arrests, which included 101 search warrants being served. 31 in Bucharest, 41 in Valcea, 12 in Teleorman, 4 in River, and one each in Arges, Prahova, Brasov, Constanta, Doj Giurgiu, Suceava, Botosani, Bacau.

DIICOT says that the raids were conducted in collaboration with the FBI and US Secret Service officers from the US Embassy in Bucharest.

A video of one of their raids was posted as an MP4 file -- here's a few stills from that video:

The story is starting to hit the wires with April 7th bylines - follow along in Romanian if you wish:

The story FBI Descends on Prahova indicates searches were also conducted related to this case in Prague and in the USA.

According to the Gazeta de Sud the raid was codenamed "Operation: Valley of the Kings" (Valea Regilor).

Gandul News has a photograph I haven't seen elsewhere, and reports that the criminals were selling fictional electronic and luxury cars and even airplanes. Recent sales included a BMW X5, Lexus and Infiniti vehicles, and even a recreational aircraft that sold for 67,000 Euros to a rich American. The group also sold motorcycles, laptops, and gold and platinum Rolex watches -- all fakes. Officers monitored the three groups for a year before pulling the trigger on the raid.

Realitatea got a statement from DIICOT executive, Nicolae Blaga - "Computer fraud and the sale of information stolen by phishing are well-known practices" or something like that -- (Modul de fraudă informatică este arhicunoscut cu procurarea datelor prin fishing, inducerea în eroare a părţilor vătămate prin licitaţii frauduloase.)

Nicolae's statement to the Adevarul.ro included the statement that "the support he received from the FBI was of great importance." (Am beneficiat de spijinul FBI care a fost de mare importanţă")

Agentia is the only story so far that specifically mentions fake eBay sites being involved. It is likely that the account take-overs that allowed the convincing sale of vehicles began with an eBay phishing campaign to steal credentials.

According to this story in Brasov one particular student, pays his way through college by selling imaginary yachts and villas on the Internet. He received his wake-up call from the Organized Crime Brigade in his dorm room at the University of Transylvania.

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