17 Arrested In Tucson In Online Phishing Scheme

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Seventeen area residents were indicted by a federal grand jury here this week in connection with an international ring that used credit card information stolen during online phishing attacks to create phony credit cards and ring up hundreds of thousands of dollars of charges against U.S. banks and credit unions.

The ring used card numbers and other personal information supplied by people oversees to make counterfeit cards, which were then used to make as much as $600,000 in cash withdrawals at ATMs, authorities said. The funds were withdrawn primarily from four Tucson-area institutions: DM FCU, Bank One, and two branches of Marshall & Isley Bank, according to the indictments obtained by The Credit Union Journal.

The suspects, most of them under 25 years old, had more than 4,500 illegally obtained credit and debit card numbers and PINs, as well as Social Security numbers, addresses and personal passwords, when they were arrested. Computer hackers outside the U.S. used phishing and pharming to lure customers to online websites and convinced them to supply the thieves with their personal information, the indictments said.

The Tucson participants were recruited over Internet chat rooms by people in 19 countries, including Russia, Lithuania, Egypt, Pakistan, England, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Serbia and Montenegro.

The Tucson suspects lived in two houses and made counterfeit cards using blank cards and encoding them with magnetic strips on the back with the stolen information. Twelve of the suspects have been arrested and five are still at large, authorities said.

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