Most of the time, students absorb themselves in projects or study groups, but this group of Russian hackers had much bigger ideas. Recently, the FBI detained 20 Russian students on suspicion of working with an international group of hackers guilty of stealing over $70 million from personal bank accounts.
The FBI called the ring of hackers and the students, “one of the largest cyber criminal cases we have ever investigated.” Many of the students were detained when they attempted to leave the United States. According to the Russian consulate’s third secretary, one student, Sofia Dikova, was detained in Newark, NJ with a pile of fake documents that the hackers used to open bank accounts. Talk about a smoking gun.
The scam started with a Zeus Trojan virus, which was disguised as an invitation to LinkedIn. Once a user clicked on the invitation, the virus would steal the users’ bank account numbers and allow the hackers full access into the users’ funds. The criminals would then transfer the funds into bank accounts created in fake names.
Apparently the ring succeeded in stealing $70 million USD and attempted to steal another $150 million from personal accounts and medium sized companies, including churches and towns.
As of now, the hackers face up to 30 years in jail and up to $500,000 in fines. Although cybercrime doesn’t involve a crime committed face-to-face, this case is a somber reminder that cybercrime is indeed serious and can cause some serious problems for the offenders.