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Three Bulgarians Arrested in Connection With Phishing Scheme Against US Banks

Bulgarian authorities have arrested three men on charges of being part of an international cybercriminal gang that targeted U.S. bank customers.

The men were detained last week in Sofia and Burgas following a joint investigation by the computer crime division of the Bulgarian Chief Directorate for Combating Organized Crime (CDCOC) and the FBI.

The gang sent phishing emails that appeared to originate from major U.S. banks and directed recipients to fake online banking websites with the purpose of stealing their user names and passwords, the Bulgarian Interior Ministry said in a statement last week. The men's names were not given and their ages were described only as "between 28 and 36."

The men allegedly used the stolen information to transfer money from bank accounts belonging to victims. Investigators said that the three suspects used online payment services such as libertyreserve.com, paypal.com, webmoney.ru, moneybookers.com and others.

During raids at the three men's homes police officers seized mobile phones, computer systems containing hacking programs, laptops, storage media devices, receipts of numerous money transactions, as well as stolen online banking credentials. The suspects will be charged with financial crimes.

The law enforcement operation resulting in these arrests took place on Dec. 7, one day before FBI Director Robert Muller arrived in Sofia to meet with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov and the directors of the country's security structures.

Combating cybercrime was a major focus of the discussions Muller had with the Bulgarian officials, the country's Interior Ministry announced. Muller said that he hopes the FBI and the CDCOC will collaborate more.

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