Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Feds Drop Hammer on Worldwide Cybercrime Syndicate

Dozens of members of an online forum that used the slogan “In Fraud We Trust” face charges of buying and selling stolen identifications on the deep web.

(CN) – Dozens of members of an online forum that used the slogan “In Fraud We Trust” face charges of buying and selling stolen identifications on the deep web.

In a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday, a grand jury in Nevada charged 36 people from seven nations with cyber crimes involving stolen IDs, credit cards and financial information.

The defendants in the case, suspected of being members of the web forum “Infraud,” operated across the world. Infraud was created in the Ukraine by 34-year-old Svyatoslav Bondarenko in 2010, according to the indictment.

Infraud was touted as “the premier destination for carding, and to direct traffic and potential purchasers to the automated vending sites of its members,” prosecutors say.

It grew from a simple forum to a large operation with moderators and vetting of new members to accommodate high-quality stolen information, according to prosecutors. Infraud had nearly 11,000 members on its discussion forum as of last March.

“Carding” is a type of fraud that involves buying and selling personal and financial information. Many carding forums operate in Russia and other Eastern European countries.

Because the United States does not have an extradition treaty with Russia, prosecuting such cybercrime has been difficult.

Authorities say Infraud’s activities resulted in more than $530 million in losses.

The members of the forum established a hierarchy to expand and protect its reputation as a high-quality carding operation. They also had a screening process, and the charged members did not know the real names of the other members, prosecutors say.

Members would post “dumps” of credit card information they had collected on the forum to prove their worth and used an escrow service for digital currency transactions like bitcoin.

The members face charges of racketeering conspiracy, possession of counterfeit and unauthorized access devices, and aiding and abetting.

In addition to five American defendants, authorities have arrested suspects in Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Kosovo and Serbia. In all, the suspects come from 17 different countries.

In 2013, a carder sent heroin to the home of Brian Krebs, a journalist who covers cybercrime. In response, the carder, known as “Fly,” spoke to Vice about the operation, which he called “just a joke.”

“When you see a story about carders stealing a million, you have to realize that the person who actually did it got $100,000 tops,” Fly told Vice. “It might seem like a lot, but in reality very few of those kind of operations are taking place – maybe once every six months, or even less. The rest of the money is lost in the supply chain on the people who provide the ‘drops’ and the rest of it.”

Categories / Criminal, International, National

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.