DOJ announces indictments against global cyber identity fraud ring

The criminal Infraud group racketeering scheme amounted to $2.2 billion in financial losses.

A federal grand jury in the District of Nevada has returned an indictment, unsealed Wednesday, against 36 cyber-criminals from the United States and 17 countries on five continents who participated in a transnational racketeering enterprise via an internet forum called “Infraud,” the U.S. Department of Justice reported earlier this week.

Members of the Infraud Organization used the forum to coordinate and conduct online criminal activities that included identity theft, bank fraud, wire fraud and computer crimes.  Coordinated with the unsealing of the indictment today, U.S. Department of Homeland Security agents across the United States and law enforcement counterparts in France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, Kosovo, Serbia and Albania have conducted operations that have resulted in the arrest of 13 members of the Infraud Organization.

Operating under the slogan “In Fraud We Trust,” members of the Infraud Organization used the online forum to purchase and sell stolen credit card numbers, financial information, social security numbers, passwords and other personally identifying information; they advertised services that facilitated these activities and related, illicit financial transactions; and they disseminated malware.

Infraud was truly the premier one-stop shop for cyber-criminals worldwide.

Over the course of the Infraud Organization’s seven-year history, its members targeted more than 4.3 million credit cards, debit cards and bank accounts held by individuals around the world and in all 50 states.

The actions of the Infraud Organization resulted in approximately $2.2 billion in intended losses and over $530 million in actual losses to U.S. financial institutions, merchants and consumers.  That makes this case one of the largest cyber fraud enterprise prosecutions ever undertaken by the Department of Justice.

David Rybicki, Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice said, “This case reflects the alarming and increasing threat posed by cyber-crime.  A recent report predicts that the annual cost of global cyber-crime will exceed $2 trillion by 2019, four times the 2015 estimate.  Those staggering numbers demonstrate why addressing this growing danger is among the Department’s top priorities.”

Like most organized transnational criminal enterprises, Infraud’s members had defined roles within the organization’s hierarchy.  But unlike the organized crime of years past, many of the organization’s nearly 11,000 members have never met in person and do not know the true identities of their co-conspirators — they know each other only by their online user names and other anonymized identifiers.  Infraud members used the forum’s private message threads, digital currency escrow services, VPNs, and other anonymizing software, to keep it that way.

“But as today’s announcement demonstrates, the Department of Justice refuses to allow cyber-criminals to hide behind the anonymity of the web while stealing personally identifying information, emptying bank accounts, and wreaking havoc on our nation’s digital infrastructure and financial system,“ said Rybicki.  “We aggressively investigate, indict, and when possible, prosecute the cyber-criminals responsible for such brazen attacks.  The charges and arrests announced today are a victory for the rule of law.”

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