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Five men were recently charged in New Jersey with the theft of more than 160 million credit card numbers in a conspiracy that resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in losses, and is the largest such scheme ever prosecuted in the U.S.
The defendants allegedly stole credit card numbers and personal identifiying information from corporate targets including NASDAQ, 7-Eleven, Carrefour, JCP, Hannaford, Heartland, Wet Seal, Commidea, Dexia, JetBlue, Dow Jones, Euronet, Visa Jordan, Global Payment, Diners Singapore and Ingenicard.
They then sold the stolen data both directly and through online forums, for approximately $10 per U.S. credit number and associated data, $50 per European credit card number and associated data, and $15 per Canadian credit card number and associated data.
According to the indictment, each defendant had a specific role in the scheme. Vladimir Drinkman, 32, of Syktyykar and Moscow, Russia, and Alexandr Kalinin, 26, of St. Petersburg, Russia, focused on penetrating network security and gaining access to the corporate victims' systems. Roman Kotov, 32, of Moscow, allegedly focused on mining the networks accessed by Drinkman and Kalinin, while Mikhail Rytikov, 26, of Odessa, Ukraine, provided the hackers with anonymous Web hosting services. Dmitriy Smilianets, 29, of Moscow, allegedly sold the information stolen by the other participants in the scheme.
Drinkman and Smilianets were arrested in the Netherlands on June 28, 2012. Drinkman is in custody in the Netherlands pending an extradition hearing, and Smilianets was extradited to the U.S. on September 7, 2012. The other three defendants remain at large.
"This type of crime is the cutting edge," U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said in a statement. "Those who have the expertise and the inclination to break into our computer networks threaten our economic well-being, our privacy, and our national security. And this case shows there is a real practical cost because these types of frauds increase the costs of doing business for every American consumer, every day."