Cybercrime hits JPMorgan, PNC

At least $3 million has been stolen from major US banks in an international identity theft scandal.

By TheStreet Staff Oct 1, 2010 1:15PM

By Laurie Kulikowski, TheStreet


JPMorgan Chase (JPM), PNC Financial Services (PNC) and Ally Financial are among the banks hacked into as part of an international cybercrime identity theft scandal.


According to The Wall Street Journal, more than 100 people in the U.S. and the U.K. were arrested or charged in connection with the crimes. At least $3 million was stolen from U.S. bank accounts, according to federal and state prosecutors, who announced the indictments in New York on Thursday.


The investigation could expand to other countries, they say.


Separately, 20 people were arrested this week in London for allegedly stealing approximately $9.5 million from U.K. bank accounts. The action was related to the larger bank hacking scheme.

According to the article, the U.S. investigation has been in progress for the past year and focused on so-called mules -- people selected to open bank accounts using falsified information who then transfer the stolen money to Eastern Europe.


Hackers install computer viruses (unknown to the recipient) that are e-mailed to users. Once a user clicks on the seemingly innocuous message, software is activated to monitor the user's passwords and user names, the Journal explains.


The mules typically withdrew roughly $10,000, keeping about 8% to 10%, the article states.


Bank of America (BAC) and TD Bank (TD) were among the banks used to open accounts in which the stolen money was deposited.


The federal charges dished out to the people involved include conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, to possess false identification documents, to commit money laundering and false use of a passport. State charges include grand larceny and identity theft. U.K. officials said 11 people were charged with conspiracy to defraud and money laundering, among other things, while nine others were on bail, the Journal reported.


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