“Operation Phish Phry commenced in 2007 when FBI agents, working with United States financial institutions, took proactive steps to identify and disrupt sophisticated criminal enterprises targeting the financial infrastructure in the United States. Intelligence developed during the initiative prompted the FBI and Egyptian authorities to agree to pursue a joint investigation into multiple subjects based in Egypt after investigators in both countries earlier this year uncovered an international conspiracy allegedly operating an elaborate scheme to steal identities through a method commonly called “phishing.” The group is accused of conspiring to target American-based financial institutions and victimize an unknown number of account holders by fraudulently using their personal financial information.
“The 51-count indictment accuses all of the defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. Various defendants are charged with bank fraud; aggravated identity theft; conspiracy to commit computer fraud, specifically unauthorized access to protected computers in connection with fraudulent bank transfers and domestic and international money laundering.”
This is great news for banks and their customers. Not only has a specific piece of fraudulent activity been exposed and prosecuted, but many of the more general methods used by these people are now exposed to the general light of day, making the activities of other parallel schemes more difficult to continue.
Acting United States Attorney George S. Cardona added: “This international phishing ring had a significant impact on two banks and caused huge headaches for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of bank customers. Organized, international criminal rings can only be confronted by an organized response by law enforcement across international borders, which we have seen in this case.”
Other media reports state that the two banks affected were Bank of America Corp and Wells Fargo Co.