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Egypt and US arrest 80 for phishing

Joint investigation between Egyptian and US authorities targeted international phishing gang

The gang targeted accounts with two US banks, and is believed to have stolen around $1.5 million.
The gang targeted accounts with two US banks, and is believed to have stolen around $1.5 million.

Authorities in the US and Egypt have arrested around eighty people for their part in an international phishing scam.

The arrests were the result of a two-year investigation into an organised cyber crime gang, which is believed to have stolen around $1.5 million in phishing attacks on hundreds of US bank accounts.

Thirty-three suspects were arrested in California, Nevada, and North Carolina, with US authorities seeking a further twenty people. Egyptian authorities are reported to have arrested 47 Egyptian nationals. Those arrested have been charged with crimes including computer fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, money laundering, and aggravated identify theft.

The gang, which was believed to have been criminally motivated, launched the phishing attacks from Egypt to gain account details of customers with two US banks. Once the accounts were compromised, money was stolen from legitimate customer accounts by transferring it into bogus accounts set up by the US part of the gang. The US gang members would then withdraw funds from these accounts and transfer the profits by wire transfer to Egypt.

The investigation, which was led by the FBI's Los Angeles office and dubbed ‘Operation Phish Phry', was the first joint cyber investigation between the US and Egypt. The FBI worked with the US Secret Service, the Electronics Crimes Task Force in Los Angeles, state and local law enforcement, and Egyptian authorities on the operation.

Acting United States Attorney George S. Cardona stated: "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."

Keith Bolcar, acting assistant director in charge of the FBI in Los Angeles commented: "The sophistication with which Phish Phry defendants operated represents an evolving and troubling paradigm in the way identity theft is now committed.

"Criminally savvy groups recruit here and abroad to pool tactics and skills necessary to commit organized theft facilitated by the computer, including hacking, fraud and identity theft, with a common greed and shared willingness to victimize Americans. The FBI is grateful for the assistance of its law enforcement partners in the U.S. and the Egyptian government's dedicated cooperation, which illustrates that borders cease to exist among countries committed to the rule of law and to the protection of their citizens," he added.