Thirty-eight people were charged Monday with stealing names, Social Security numbers, credit card data and other personal information from unsuspecting Internet users as part of a global crime ring. The Romanian-based phishing organization sought to steal from thousands of consumers and hundreds of financial institutions. The Justice Department describes this kind of operation as a growing worldwide threat posed by organized crime.
While in Bucharest annoucing the charges being filed, Deputy Attorney General Mark R. Filip said, “International organized crime poses a serious threat not only to the United States and Romania, but to all nation”. “Criminals who exploit the power and convenience of the Internet do not recognize national borders; therefore our efforts to prevent their attacks cannot end at our borders either.”
The practice known as “phishing” involves sending e-mails that include links directing recipients to fake web sites where they are asked to input sensitive data but could also include attachments that, when clicked, secretly install “spyware” that can capture personal information and send it to third parties over the Internet.
More than half of the people charged in Monday’s cases are Romanian, although the alleged scam also operated from the United States, Canada, Portugal and Pakistan. The cases were linked by two Romanians who participated in both schemes, authorities said.